A major international operation has resulted in the arrest of 24 members of a Brazilian organized crime network that was responsible for importing large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine into Europe.

The operation, which was coordinated by Europol, involved law enforcement agencies from Brazil, Spain, and Portugal. It was the culmination of a long-running investigation that began in 2022.

On 4 May, coordinated raids were carried out in Spain and Portugal. 20 house searches were executed in Spain (provinces of Málaga, Cordoba, Madrid, Cantabria, Vizcaya) and 4 in Portugal (Cascais and Sintra), resulting in 24 arrests. Over 73 kilos of methamphetamine, 5 firearms and more than EUR 116 000 in cash were seized. Seven other members of the same gang had been arrested earlier in Spain, Portugal and Brazil.

This series of arrests follows the June 2022 seizure of 800 kilos of cocaine hidden in a container of frozen acai berries originating from Brazil, in the port of Sines, Portugal.

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The Brazilian criminal syndicate had direct contact with cocaine producers in Brazil and other South American source countries and was responsible for the preparation and shipment of cocaine in maritime containers bound for major European ports.

In August 2022, Europol brought together investigators from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, who have since been working together to establish a joint strategy to bring the whole network down.

Since then, Europol has provided continuous intelligence development and analysis to support field investigators. During the action day in Brazil, two officers were deployed on the ground in Brazil to assist the national authorities, ensuring swift analysis of new data as it was collected during the action.

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This operation is a major success in the fight against international drug trafficking. It demonstrates the effectiveness of global cooperation between law enforcement agencies. It also sends a clear message to criminals that they will not be able to operate with impunity.