German police announced on Tuesday that they had apprehended 14 persons accused of smuggling several tonnes of cocaine from South America to Germany and that their decade-old trafficking route had been disrupted as part of an international probe into the matter.
More than 250 law enforcement officers searched more than 40 places in Germany and overseas, and 14 arrest warrants were carried out. There were ten individuals apprehended in Berlin alone, one in Dortmund, two in Latvia, and one in Spain, among other places. According to senior prosecutor Günter Sohnrey in Berlin, the crimes were planned and organized in the German capital and nearby areas.
According to the detectives, a total of 28 individuals ranging in age from 22 to 62 years old have been identified. These individuals are being held accountable for a number of crimes, including cocaine trafficking. According to Christian Hoppe, Chief Criminal Director at the BKA and Head of Drug Control in Wiesbaden, “we consider this to be a tremendous victory against the worldwide drug mafia.”
According to Hoppe, it had been difficult to identify the criminals for a long time because of fabricated personal information. In addition, the smuggling of cocaine was carried out and kept hidden by using a network of front firms.
The group is also alleged to have utilized businesses in numerous German towns to get corona subsidies, according to the authorities. The money that had been unlawfully obtained was subsequently laundered.
Approximately 690 kilograms of cocaine worth 140 million euros were discovered in a cargo container at the port of the Brazilian city of Santos in November 2018, according to authorities. The finding prompted the two-year probe, according to the investigators.
The shipment was addressed to a business based in Berlin. Investigators subsequently discovered that the suspected culprits had been smuggling cocaine into Germany via the Port of Hamburg at least since 2011, using highly professional structures, front firms, and fictitious personal information to conceal their identities.
The organization had been engaged in a total of nine cocaine shipments with a combined weight of over five tons during the previous 10 years. According to Hoppe, its deconstruction is an “amazing achievement,” but it also serves as a “reminder that the issue of drug trafficking, as well as the danger to the internal security of our population, should not be ignored.”
As revealed by Martin Steltner, a spokesperson for the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office, the investigation is known as the “steel girder process” since the cocaine was concealed in ship cargo in steel girders, which were later discovered. Furthermore, the concealing areas were coated with lead so that they could not be spotted using traditional X-ray processes.