- Kompania Bello is one of Europe’s most active cocaine-trafficking networks with business of over Dh1.5 billion
- The gang is unusual in the massive international drug trade in that it controlled every aspect of the supply chain
- The arrest of Matoshi was done in cooperation with ten countries, leading to the arrest of 20 members of the gang
- Over the course of the five-year investigation, 84 other members of the gang were arrested in Italy, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Britain, Switzerland and Germany
Dubai: A coordinated police operation in 10 countries including the UAE, has smashed an ethnic Albanian-organised crime syndicate that smuggled cocaine from South America into Europe and led to the arrest of 20 suspects, including a ring leader, in Dubai.
Dubai Police said on Thursday that the gang, known as Kompania Bello, was one of Europe’s most active cocaine-trafficking networks with business of over Dh1.5 billion.
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Denis Matoshi was a member of the gang that has been arrested by Dubai Police on Tuesday, in the international operation called Los Blancos.
Lt General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-In-Chief at Dubai Police, said the arrest of Matoshi was done in cooperation with ten countries, leading to the arrest of 20 members of the gang. “The Albanian suspect from Kompania Bello was arrested in Dubai after intensive monitoring of his movement in Dubai based on a red warrant and exchanging information with the Italian authority,” Lt Gen Al Merri said.
Dubai Police’s announcement came in line with EU’s Police agency announcement on Thursday after coordinating a series of raids by hundreds of police officers on Tuesday that led to the arrests in a five-year investigation led by the Italians.
The gang is unusual in the massive international drug trade in that it controlled every aspect of the supply chain — from arranging drug shipments from South America to distributing it throughout Europe, said Jari Liukku, head of Europol’s European Serious and Organised Crime Centre via AP.
Major-General Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs, said the 20 suspects were arrested in a single strike by police departments in Italy, Albania, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Holland, UK and the UAE.
“Dubai Police formed a team of officers from Criminal Instigation Department to locate the suspect and analysis his movement in the country after exchanging information through the Interpol,” added Maj Gen Al Mansouri.
Colonel Saeed Al Qemiz, Director of Wanted Department at Dubai Police, said the Italian Authority exchanged the information about Matoshi.
“Matoshi was wanted by Italy for leading an organised drug trafficking gang. They smuggled tonnes of drugs to Europe for sale,” Col Al Qemiz said in a statement.
The Italian authorities monitored the gang who worked jointly in three criminal groups (Minya, Jimmy, and Riti) each had more than one leader and own slogans and symbols.
Col Al Qamzi said that Matoshi will be handed over to the competent authorities at the Italian Interpol after presenting him before the Public Prosecution in Dubai and taking legal actions to obtain his extradition warrant per the international laws in this regard.
According to AP, the gang often distributed drugs using cars with concealed compartments to hide the drugs and illicit cash. It used Chinese criminals to help launder the proceeds via an underground transfer system.
Over the course of the five-year investigation, 84 other members of the gang were arrested in Italy, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Britain, Switzerland and Germany. Police seized nearly four metric tonnes of cocaine and more than 5.5 million euros in cash during the investigation.
Europol said the raids were the biggest ever against an ethnic Albanian crime gang and underscored the size of their operations — from negotiating with cartels in South America to distributing the drugs in Europe, Russia and Turkey, using encrypted communications to run the operation.
Italian Authority laud UAE
Italian authorities praised Dubai Police’s professionalism, efficiency and swift response to the red notice issued by the International Criminal Police Organisation “Interpol” to arrest the Albanian suspect in Dubai.
They explained that the gang’s illegal activities was under investigation since 2015 by the Italian International Police Cooperation Service (SCIP) and the Flying Squad Unit at the Main Police Station in Florence.