Operation Desert Light: UAE, other countries coordinate to arrest 49 drug kingpins
Dubai: Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, has lauded the joint international efforts between the Ministry of Interior in the UAE - represented by the Dubai Police General Command - and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), law enforcement of Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and the US, which contributed to the success of ‘Operation Desert Light’ that led to arresting 49 drug kingpins and members of a prolific transnational criminal network involved in large-scale drugs trafficking and money laundering.
Lt Gen Sheikh Saif attributed the success to the fruitful international cooperation efforts amongst the participating countries in combating transnational money laundering and drug trafficking crimes. He further reaffirmed the UAE’s keenness to maintain active communication channels with various police agencies worldwide to ensure the world’s safety and security.
He also confirmed that the global joint efforts in combating money laundering are in line with the UAE’s National Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism, praising the successful coordination between all strategic partners and international police agencies in combating transnational crime and organised crime syndicates.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, said Operation Desert Light is another testimony to the UAE’s tireless efforts in combating money laundering crimes and clamping down on organised criminal networks by utilising strong international security coordination and cooperation. He added that the real-time coordination among all the partners involved ensured swift tactical decisions and attributed to achieving this achievement, arresting the high-value targets, and dismantling their criminal infrastructure and network.
Lt Gen Al Marri said the Operation is the culmination of parallel investigations run in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE with the support of Europol into the activities of this prolific criminal network involved in large-scale drug trafficking between Latin America and Europe and money laundering crimes.
Europol revealed that between November 8 and 19, coordinated raids were carried out across Europe and the UAE, targeting both the command-and-control centre and the logistical drugs trafficking infrastructure in Europe.
A total of 49 suspects have been arrested during the course of this investigation - including two high-value targets in Dubai. The suspects, considered as high-value targets by Europol, had come together to form what was known as a ‘super cartel’ that controlled around one-third of the cocaine trade in Europe.
The scale of cocaine importation into Europe under the suspects’ control and command was massive and over 30 tonnes of drugs were seized by law enforcement over the course of the investigations.
Earlier in September, Europol and the Ministry of Interior of the UAE took an important step in enhancing their cooperation. A Liaison Officer Agreement was signed between the two, allowing UAE law enforcement liaison officers to be deployed to Europol’s headquarters in the Netherlands.
A liaison officer from the Ministry of Interior of the UAE has already joined the network of more than 250 liaison officers from over 50 countries and organisations with a permanent representation at Europol.
This unique approach to international police cooperation has positioned Europol as the place where crucial intelligence emerges with law enforcement from countries across the world working side by side to fight the most dangerous criminal networks.