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3 Belgian cops arrested in large drugs bust

by editor

BRUSSELS — Belgian police arrested 22 people — three of whom were police officers — in a major drug case, Belgian federal police said Tuesday.

Police raided 45 private homes and businesses in Brussels and Antwerp, where “money, luxury vehicles and a handgun were seized,” the federal police said in a press release.

The bust follows an investigation that “demonstrate[d] the existence of drug trafficking on several levels (from local deals to import/export)” and led police forces to “suspect the involvement of certain individuals in settling scores with firearms,” the police said.

Some of the suspects plotted to smuggle cocaine to the United Kingdom “using helicopters,” it added.

Belgian authorities have vowed to crack down on drug trafficking in the country, where drug-related violence is on the rise — particularly in Antwerp.

The port city has become a doorway to smuggling cocaine into Europe and has witnessed a stark increase in drug-related shootings and explosions.

Belgian authorities seized a record 121 metric tons of cocaine in the port of Antwerp in 2023, according to customs statistics released by Belgian police on Wednesday.

Brussels has also seen a rise in gang- and drug-related violence. In December, four people were injured in a shooting in central Brussels; local police later concluded that the shooting was gang-related.

In parallel, more than 120 people are currently being tried by a Brussels court in a landmark case against drug and arms trafficking, which comes after Belgian law enforcement hacked into two secure communications platforms used by smugglers: Sky ECC and EncroChat.

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