BERLIN—German police said on Tuesday that 14 people suspected of smuggling several tonnes of cocaine from South America to Germany were arrested and their decade-old trafficking route dismantled as part of an international investigation.
Twenty-eight suspects are suspected of links to nine shipments totalling nearly five tonnes of cocaine, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Berlin public prosecutor’s office said in a joint statement.
“With the arrest warrants and searches today, we have broken the supply chain,” Chief Prosecutor Georg Bauer said.
The BKA kicked off the investigations after the 2018 seizure in Brazil of 690 kg (1,500 lbs.) of cocaine—with a street value of around 140 million euros ($159 million)—which was addressed to a company in Berlin.
Using that value, the nearly five tonnes would be worth about 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion).
More than 40 locations were searched in Germany and abroad as part of the operation, and police seized property valued at over 14 million euros ($15.9 million) from eight people.
In addition to law enforcement in Berlin and Dortmund, investigators in Latvia and Spain were also involved, police said.
In February, German and Belgian customs authorities netted a record haul of over 23 tonnes of cocaine in two raids.
Cocaine seizures in the European Union reached record levels at 213 tonnes in 2019, according to the latest data from the United Nations’ and EU’s drugs agencies.
By Zuzanna Szymanska