Big Cocaine Gang Allied to Hezbollah Rounded up

THE HAGUE, 30/04/09 - (NIS News) In cooperation with various other countries, Dutch authorities have rounded up a big cocaine gang that had links with Hezbollah. Seventeen suspects were arrested on Curacao, the biggest island of the Netherlands Antilles, the Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) has revealed.

International cooperation between police and judicial services of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles, Belgium, Colombia, Venezuela and the US led to the arrest of the 17 suspects by the Curacao police. They are believed to be part of a drugs and money-laundering organisation with international branches, thought to be responsible for the import and export of at least 2,000 kilos of cocaine per year, according to the OM. "The organisation maintained international contacts with other criminal networks, which in the Middle East support Hezbollah financially".

In this investigation, launched at the beginning of 2008, containers with cocaine were intercepted earlier in Rotterdam (300 kilos), the Spanish city of Valencia (20 kilos) and the Belgian city of Antwerp (140 kilos). Three Colombian suspects have for some time been in pre-trial custody for their involvement in the Rotterdam shipment, discovered in October 2008.

The 17 suspects now arrested are from Venezuela, Colombia, Lebanon and Cuba as well as Curacao. The organisation shipped containers with cocaine from Curacao to the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Jordan. From Venezuela, drugs containers went to West Africa and subsequently to the Netherlands, Lebanon and Spain. Couriers smuggled cocaine from Curacao and Aruba to the Netherlands as air passengers.

The suspects invested the drugs profits in property in Colombia, Venezuela, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic and in companies on Curacao. "Large sums of money from the drugs trade have become available in Lebanon via underground bankers. From Lebanon, orders are also placed for weapons, which had to be delivered by the drugs organisation from South America."





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