A central figure of a transnational organised crime syndicate involved in trafficking and smuggling cocaine from South America to Europe has been arrested in Dubai.
Dubai Police said in a media statement that they were informed in June last year that the man was living in the emirate but did not reveal his name, nationality or age.
A joint investigation involving Dubai Police and authorities in France, Spain and Colombia revealed how members of the gang had set up a number of shell companies to launder several million euros during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Investigators discovered the gang was behind an attempt to smuggle 12 tonnes of tobacco into Belgium in August 2021.
They were also behind an attempt to smuggle 600 kilograms of cocaine into Spain but the drugs were confiscated in September 2021 by Colombian authorities.
An attempt was also made to smuggle 22 tonnes of sugar mixed with cocaine from Colombia to France, the drugs were seized in Thiais, near Paris, after the shipment had been unloaded at Le Havre port.
Following months of investigations and surveillance across three continents, 18 gang members were arrested in a synchronised raids in France, Dubai and Spain on May 5.
One member of the gang was arrested in Dubai while 10 other members were arrested in Paris. Seven more suspects were taken into custody in Madrid and Barcelona in a sting operation code-named “Canne a Sucre” — “sugarcane” in English.
Working on the case, Dubai Police said it had exchanged information with several European countries, the UK and the US.
Lt Gen Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, chief of Dubai Police, praised the efforts of the team from the General Department of Criminal Investigations, who located, tracked and arrested the man.
“This is another achievement of the fruitful co-operation between Dubai Police and international law enforcement agencies in ensuring the world's security and safety and tackling transnational organised crime,” he said.
Stephanie Cherbonnier, inspector general and director of Anti-Narcotics in France, praised Dubai Police's swift response and said it played an exceptional role in investigating and catching the suspect.