Industrial-scale cocaine laboratory discovered in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, thanks to information obtained from Encrochat, an encrypted telephone network used by criminal networks.
An international multi-agency operation has led to nine arrests, the seizure of over €3.4 million in cash and the shut-down of an industrial-sized cocaine production lab, in the framework of Operation SR13.
The cooperation between the French National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) and the Dutch Police (Politie) in the framework of the investigation into Encrochat led to the discovery of the industrial-scale cocaine laboratory in the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Acting on information from Europol and the French Gendarmerie, 80 Dutch police officers, accompanied by their SWAT teams and specialised dogs, raided several addresses in the cities of Rotterdam and The Hague in the early hours of 26 May. The clandestine drug laboratory was found hidden in a building also housing a garage used by criminals to customise vehicles with secret compartments to transport drugs across Europe. A total of seven vehicles already equipped with such compartments were seized on site, alongside a vehicle worth €110 000.
Both the drug laboratory and garage were run by the same criminal syndicate which was flooding Europe with cocaine. One of its members was arrested in Rotterdam under a European Arrest Warrant facilitated by Eurojust.
This operation follows an earlier action day carried out by the French Gendarmerie on 31 March, during which 450 of its officers were deployed against the same criminal group, leading to the arrest of eight members of the gang. In addition, €5 million worth of cocaine was seized in the region of Marseilles, alongside €3 million worth of cannabis resin and €3.4 million in cash. The investigation led to the seizure of the cocaine at the underground laboratory in the Netherlands this week.
In the framework of intelligence activities underway with its operational counterparts, Europol developed intelligence on the activities of this criminal syndicate in Europe.
In November 2020, Europol brought together the national investigators on both sides, who have since been working closely together to establish a joint strategy to bring down the whole network. The suspects were identified with the support of Operation EMMA 95/LEMONT 26, the French and Dutch-led investigation into the Encrochat network.
Since then, Europol has provided continuous intelligence development and analysis to support the field investigators.