An unprecedented international operation involving judicial and law enforcement authorities in 10 countries has resulted in the complete takedown of the Albanian-speaking ‘KOMPANIA BELLO’ criminal group, one of the most active cocaine-trafficking networks in Europe, said
In the early hours of 15 September, hundreds of police officers, including special intervention teams in close cooperation with prosecutors and investigative officers, and with the support of Europol and Eurojust, carried out coordinated raids against the members of this highly professional criminal syndicate.
As a result of this joint action, 20 individuals were arrested in Italy (5), the Netherlands (2), Germany (2), Greece (2), Romania (1), Hungary (1), Spain (1), Albania (5) and Dubai (1). The suspects have been placed in pre-trial detention for international narcotic substances trafficking, illegal possession and distribution of drugs and brutal assaults, including murder.
These arrests follow those of 84 other members of this criminal group early on in the investigation in Italy, Ecuador, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Germany.
This international sweep follows a complex 5-year long investigation led by the Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) under the direction of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Florence (Procura della Repubblica di Firenze). It is considered the biggest of its kind ever against Albanian-speaking organised crime and is the result of a Joint Investigation Team with the participation of Italy and The Netherlands, in which the parties have worked closely together for five years. Close to 4 tonnes of cocaine and over €5.5 million in cash were seized over the course of this investigation
For years, international importers of cocaine worked separately from the wholesalers and the gangs distributing the drug on the streets. In this case, the Albanian-speaking network under investigation ditched the entire model and controlled the whole chain – from arranging huge shipments directly from South America to distribution all across Europe.
Using sophisticated encrypted communication means, the organisation’s ringleader – a 40-year old Albanian based in Ecuador – negotiated directly with the South American drug cartels, arranged huge shipments of cocaine to the major ports of Europe and, with the help of accomplices based in Italy, the Netherlands and Albania, organised distribution throughout Europe. The cocaine was smuggled across European borders concealed in vehicles equipped with sophisticated hidden compartments.
Operation LOS BLANCOS, coordinated at the international level by Europol and Eurojust, was the culmination of many months of meticulous planning between law enforcement and judicial authorities in preparation for the action. /eurojust.europa.eu