These are four people who were placed under arrest warrant, following searches in Flanders on Wednesday and the arrest of nine people, as part of Operation Costa, said the federal prosecutor on Thursday. In addition, three people were placed under arrest warrants in the Netherlands and one summer in Spain.
On Wednesday, nine people were arrested in Flanders, following searches in Borgloon, Sint-Truiden, Landen, Maasmechelen and Heusden-Zolder, as part of an investigation for international cocaine trafficking, opened by the federal prosecutor’s office and triggered by an investigating judge from Tongeren.
The federal prosecution has requested the extradition of the four suspects placed under arrest warrant abroad, according to Eric Van Duyse, spokesman for the federal prosecution.
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According to some media reports, one of the addresses that was raided on Wednesday is the home of Geert F., president of the Bandidos motorcycle club in Borgloon. His girlfriend was arrested there, and Geert F. is believed to be the suspect arrested in Spain, but the federal prosecutor’s office has not confirmed this information.
The investigation into this case in early 2019 after the seizure of approximately 2,800 kilos of cocaine in a tropical wood container from Costa Rica, according to the federal prosecutor’s office. “Considering the size of the cargo and the suspects that emerged, it was decided to conduct a thorough investigation into the criminal organization involved in this import.“, recalled the federal prosecutor’s office on Wednesday.
Drugs from South America
“Last year, a first and a second wave of searches were started. The targeted international criminal organization, well structured, was able to ship large shipments of cocaine from South America (Costa Rica, Brazil, Ecuador, etc.) to Belgium, and recover containers using various modes. operative“, said the federal prosecutor.
“Also in this case, on October 27, 2020, a scrap metal container was searched by the Federal Judicial Police of Limburg. A large metal construction, containing 11,497.5 kilos of cocaine, was found in the container, the largest cocaine seizure ever made on Belgian soil“, a further asserted the judicial authority.
Who has been deprived of their liberty?
Among those deprived of their liberty during police operations in 2020 was Willy Van Mechelen, a 78-year-old former gendarme. In the 1990s, he had headed the anti-drug section of the BSR in Antwerp, before falling for trafficking several tons of marijuana which earned him a five-year prison sentence in 2002.
There was also Lucio Aquino whose family is based in Maasmechelen and is known as the “Soprano of the MeuseOne of the Aquino brothers, Silvio, was shot dead in 2015 in a traffic ambush, following a settling of scores between drug traffickers.