Tag Archives: drug trafficking

45 were arrested across Europe and Brazil as authorities seized a ‘record transport’ of cocaine | Instant News

Forty-five people have been arrested in a major international operation against the drug trafficking network between Brazil and Europe, Europol announced on Friday.

The European police agency also revealed that more than 52 tonnes of cocaine were also seized by law enforcement agencies.

Three continents are engaged in an investigation to find a “record catch”, which has been described as “the biggest-ever crackdown” of its kind.

An international investigation was launched by Europol in April and led by authorities in Portugal, Belgium and Brazil

More than a thousand police officers conducted 179 house searches in various countries on Friday morning, leading to arrests.

Thirty-eight people were detained in Brazil, four in Belgium, two in the United Arab Emirates and one in Spain.

Europol, which coordinated the operation, described the suspects as members of a “very professional criminal syndicate”.

The drug trafficking network is believed to have imported at least 45 tonnes of cocaine into major European ports each year, with profits exceeding € 100 million over six months.

According to Europol, the criminal network has direct contact with drug cartels in Brazil and other South American countries that are responsible for preparing and shipping cocaine, transported to Europe by sea containers.

“The scale of cocaine imports from Brazil to Europe under their control and command is enormous and more than 52 tonnes of cocaine was seized by law enforcement during the investigation.”

The agency also said that the main targets of the operation were identified with support from A French and Dutch-led investigation into Encrochat’s encrypted telephone network.

Authorities also seized 70 luxury vehicles in Brazil, Belgium and Spain in raids as well as 37 aircraft in Brazil.

It also recovered more than € 12 million in cash in Portugal, € 300,000 in cash in Belgium, and over R $ 1 million in Brazilian Real (~ € 157,000) and $ 169,000 (~ € 141,000) in cash from Brazil.

Another 163 properties were seized in Brazil worth more than R $ 132 million (€ 20.7 million) as well as two houses in Spain worth € 4 million, and two apartments in Portugal worth € 2.5 million.

Ten people in Spain have also frozen their assets as part of the operation, Europol said.

“This operation highlights the complex structure and wide reach of Brazilian organized crime groups in Europe,” said the Deputy Director of Europol, Wil van Gemert.

“The scale of the challenge currently faced by police around the world requires a coordinated approach to dealing with drug trafficking across the continent.”

“The commitment of our partner countries to work through Europol supports the success of this operation and serves as a call for sustainable global action,” he added.


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Dark web trial ′ Cyberbunker ′ breaks new ground | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | Instant News

Germany’s largest cybercrime court started this week amid much media fanfare at a district court in the city of Trier. The courtroom was crowded. The defendants and their lawyers wore masks and were separated by plastic screens.

On the first day it took the judge two hours to read out the charges. In the second case, three of the eight defendants were given the opportunity to tell their life stories.

Eight people – four Dutch, three German and one Bulgarian – worked in a “cyberbunker” data center in a former military bunker in the pretty village of Traben-Trarbach.

They are now accused of aiding and abetting criminals in an estimated 249,000 illegal online transactions involving drugs, contract murder, money laundering and millions of euros of child abuse imagery.

Johan X., the suspect culprit has become the focus of the German media – which may not identify the accused until proven guilty.

In September 2019, a major police operation that has been carried out for half a decade to raid the bunkers and close it. A key member of the group was arrested.

The alleged culprit for the operation, Johan X., 60 years old from Holland, remained silent and was silent during the first days of the investigation, listening to the testimony of the first three defendants.

Dutchman Michiel R. who works as a “manager” in the bunker summarizes his work history in a boxy shape and gives a tearful picture of his close relationship with his mother. Jaqueline B., a German who acts as a “bookkeeper” for the operation, talks about her childhood in Cameroon growing up as the daughter of a poor farmer. A 21-year-old German IT expert who spent a year working in technical support described his solitary life and history of depression.

Map of Traben-Trarbach in Germany

The location of the bunker was chosen in the Cold War because it is west of the Rhine, an important natural border in Germany

Beautiful setting

There is a lot of focus in the international media on the bunkers the group uses for its operations.

Massive constructions were built during the Cold War to house the NATO command center. It sits on a hill overlooking a small town of 6,000 people, mostly known for its Riesling vineyards.

“We’re tourist-oriented here; it’s really beautiful,” explains Patrice-Christian-Roger Langer, mayor of Traben-Trarbach. He knew the bunker well because he worked there as a computer programmer in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It’s like a giant root system,” he explained. “Only one floor above ground and four underground. The only way to distinguish each floor is through color coding on the walls. Visitors will often come and have no idea whether they are at ground level or tens of meters underground.”

After the end of the Cold War, the bunker gradually fell out of use and the German government finally sold it to Johan X. in 2013. Langer said the city council had no say in the sale, and there was a lot of speculation about Johan X. and his plans for the bunker.

Ruins in Traben-Trarbach (picture-alliance / Dumont / A. Selbach)

The Mosel Valley is a popular place for tourists

Gossip and rumors

“So I called him and asked if I could come visit,” said Langer. “He said I could come any time, I just needed to give a little notice because of the guard dog. And he was really very open – I visited twice and could look behind every door I wanted. Not much seems to have changed since I worked there. “

Johan X. promised that his new IT hub would offer at least 80 jobs to the local community, which Langer said was badly needed. He also promised to set up an IT training center. But he remains unclear about the true nature of the operation.

Neither of his promises materialized, and rumors continued to spread among the townspeople – that X. was producing drugs or buying and selling weapons in the bunkers.

Then, in September 2019, Langer attended a meeting in a neighboring town and received a WhatsApp notification: police vans and helicopters were in the bunker. He ran back to Traben-Trarbach to find the bunker had been raided.

Only then did Langer and the rest of the town hear about what might have happened and the dark web empire allegedly run by X.

Read more: Darknet, internet shady

aerial view of the bunker in Traben-Trarbach (LKA Rhineland-Palatinate)

The bunker was the site of a major police operation in September 2019

The ‘creepy’ dark web

Johan X. * and the other defendants were charged with running a “bulletproof hosting” service for websites, where they offered clients the opportunity to carry out covert online operations.

“There is no consistent meaning for the dark web,” explains Professor Steven Murdoch, a security engineering expert at University College London. “It’s used most often as a reference to creepy stuff on the Internet – because it sounds a little creepy. And flak hosting is completely unrelated to the dark web, but it might involve the same people at times.”

Johan X. strictly offered “bulletproof hosting” to Cyberbunker customers from the start, allowing clients to access the darknet, where some of the internet’s most sinister operations take place. He originally advertised that Cyberbunker would host the website with anything but “child pornography and anything related to terrorism”.

“Bulletproof hosting is for services that are normal internet services but are illegal or prohibited,” Professor Murdoch explains. “But it’s important to remember that most bad things on the internet happen on the normal internet.” He cited one study by the British Internet Watch Foundation on child abuse images and found that less than 1% of the images were accessed via the so-called onion service, which assists anonymous users.

Police photo of several confiscated servers (LKA Rheinland-Pfalz)

While some servers are virtual, hundreds of others are physically stored in bunkers

Close eyes

Investigators are still examining the content of the hundreds of physical and virtual servers housed by the bunkers and say they have not found any content unrelated to illegal activity. But Murdoch says it’s inconceivable that a host service provider might not know about the nature of their customers’ online activity – especially if they consciously turn a blind eye.

“The principle that organizations are not responsible for their customers is a good principle, and it is widely applied,” Murdoch said. “Once you become a large organization, there will be bad people using your services. So the question is – what proportion of your customers are bad people?”

Proportion is an important part because a major internet hosting service like Amazon can facilitate millions of cases of illegal online activity. But considering their gigantic size, this is only a fraction of their service, Murdoch pointed out.

stacks of files (Harald Tittel / dpa / picture-alliance)

The eight defendants and 250,000 crimes – evidence summarized in a pile of files

Making new breakthroughs

Defense lawyers this week argued that the groups surrounding Johan X. were not aware of what content and transactions were being carried out on the website hosted by the bunker servers.

With the trial running for more than a year, the public prosecutor said the trial would cover “a new legal foundation.”

Although the prosecutor was able to prove that Johan X. and his team were aware of the activity, the key question of the trial was whether the internet service provider had the right to act on this knowledge.

Germany is a country where data privacy is highly protected: electronic payment methods are still uncommon in most countries partly due to concerns about data mining. Mayor Langer was among those who saw the case as an opportunity to re-examine some of these regulations.

“I work with children, and my internet search history and personal background have to be checked by the police every year,” he said. “But can this man run an operation that facilitates the sale of child abuse images and he can claim a lack of knowledge due to data security? Something has to change.”

The trial will run as early as December 2021 as prosecutors will go through thousands of charges against the defendants. The evidence shows that the guilty verdict is far from certain. But Professor Murdoch said law enforcement often hides important evidence in cases like these.

“We may never know exactly what happened [in the bunker],” he says.

Mayor Langer was eagerly awaiting a decision: “This is truly history in the making.”

* Editor’s note: DW follows the German press code, which emphasizes the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and urges us not to disclose full names in such cases.


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Malaysian flight attendants who smuggled heroin into Australia were jailed for more than nine years | Instant News

A Malaysian flight attendant who uses her underwear to smuggle millions of dollars worth of heroin into Australia for an international drug syndicate will spend nearly a decade in prison.

Zailee Zainal, 40, wept today when she was jailed for nine years and six months for her role in a sophisticated operation, which was captured by the Australian Border Force in 2019.

But while imprisoning him this morning, District Court Judge Michael Cahill said the mother of three, who is likely to be deported at the end of her term, deserved leniency.

“There is a place to exercise mercy in handing down sentences,” said the judge.

“You feel that you have no other choice but to commit a crime.

“You desperately want to raise money to pay for the surgery your daughter needs to improve her quality of life.”

The court heard that Zainal, who worked for Malaysian airline Malindo Air, was recruited by a drug syndicate when he learned that he was eager to pay for his daughter’s piling medical bills.

After withdrawing his mortgage, Zainal began selling brownies and Tupperware to make ends meet.

But when that failed, he asked the airlines to make a donation on his behalf.

“After the email, someone I thought was a friend approached me as a carrier,” said Zainal.

“I was vulnerable and at that moment willing to do anything.”

Zainal smuggled more than 4 kilograms of heroin into Australia hidden in her bra and underwear.(Provided)

The court heard that Zainal was undergoing training for the role, learning how to speak in code and walking confidently with the package between his legs.

Between October 2018 and January 2019, he made a total of eight trips and smuggled over 4 kilograms of heroin, with a street value of around $ 3 million.

The court heard that when he landed in Australia he would go to a hotel where the heroin was exchanged for cash in the toilet.

Zainal only earned $ 6,500 for the operation that landed him in prison.

Heroin is referred to in the code as a ‘ticket’ and is about 70 to 80 percent pure.

The authorities managed to intercept five packages of heroin.

Zainal attends a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in prison

When he was arrested, Zainal made a full confession but told investigators he thought he was carrying marijuana.

“I know it is medicine, but I deny it and try to believe it is not,” said Zainal.

“If I had known it was heroin, I wouldn’t have done it in the first place.”

A gloved hand holds the 'Australian Border Force' sign over the heroin ball in the evidence bag on several scales.
The heroin is referred to as a “ticket” by the smuggling operation.(Provided)

The court heard that since he went to prison, Zainal, who does not drink or use drugs, has attended Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to understand the effects of drugs.

Zainal’s detention while awaiting sentence in Australia has had a major impact on his family.

Her husband, who is also a flight attendant, has been unable to work since the start of the global pandemic.

The court heard her children call her in prison where she helped them with homeschooling.

Judge Cahill said Zainal was “very sorry” and had written a letter of apology.

“You are very unlikely to offend you again,” he said.

Zainal will be eligible for parole in about three years with the time he has served.


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Coronavirus Political Daily: Italy insults women, crisis COCAINE-19, ISIS exploits a pandemic in Iraq | Instant News

Italian women criticize in COVID response – Italian COVID-19 Commission, which selected for advise the government on how to manage the crisis, has gathered for a television briefing every night to update the public on today’s news. But in a country where more than half the doctors, and three-quarters of nurses, are women, the Italians record conspicuous neglect: 20 limbs made of fully male. Now, anger over gender inequality in coronavirus responses is gaining momentum: more than just 70 female doctors and scientists has signed a petition demanding that the Italian government include women in the council governing the country’s response to the pandemic. Women MPs have filed a similar motion in the Senate. The absence of women in the policy-making process has caused several major mistakes, critics say: the plan to reopen Prime Minister Conte, for example, failed to overcoming the burden of childcare, which disproportionately falls on the female population. Gender imbalances in the government’s coronavirus response track broader inequality in Italy, wheree only 53 percent of Italian women is represented at work, para second lowest sign in the EU.

COCAINE-19: pandemic and human traffickers – The corona virus pandemic has caused havoc with global drug trafficking, messing up its supply chains, and causing street prices for some illegal drugs to skyrocket, said new UN report. In normal times, cartels send most of their belongings hidden in airplanes and ships carrying legitimate goods. But when coronavirus locking closes borders, paralyzing air travel, and reducing maritime trade, drugmakers struggle with a shortage of labor and precursor chemicals, while smuggling their final product becomes far more risky. Mexican opioid producers, for example, can not get the chemicals they usually import from China. Poppy farmers in South Asia see demand, and prices, for their crops to collapse as opportunities for export pucker up. Latin American drug lords are at risk greater shipping to Europe, which is easier to detect. Drug shortages can depress consumption, but they also raise prices on the road, which can trigger violence related to smuggling routes and markets. More broadly, with the coronavirus pandemic set to plunge as many as 500 million people fall into povertyThe UN warns of it as an economy Open once again, traffickers will have a large group of willing and vulnerable candidates.

ISIS exploits Iraq’s COVID crisis – We were before write about fears that militant groups might take advantage of the coronavirus crisis to wreak havoc when the government is disrupted. That is precisely what is happening Iraq, where ISIS has exploited COVID-19 in recent weeks to launch new attacks in urban areas such as Baghdad and Kirkuk, killing a number of Iraqi soldiers. Although ISIS holds little of its territory (mostly in rural areas), it has more breathing space now because Iraqi security forces are being pulled thin to maintain public compliance with locking requirements. The wave of violence came as the Iraqi government struggled to fill the security vacuum left by the US decision to do so interesting its own forces because of coronavirus fears. (In a blow to the Iraqi government, US-led coalition forces who played a central role in the struggle to defeat ISIS had begun to withdraw from Iraq as part of a planned troop withdrawal.) Even before the COVID-19 crisis, Iraq had been plagued by political instability, after failing to install a stable prime minister for five months until yesterday, while also facing up popular riot for corruption and economic stagnation.


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