Police Bust ‘Clandestine’ Cocaine Factory in Rotterdam

Published: 01 June 2021

Europol OperationDutch police shut down an industrial-sized cocaine lab, seized money, drugs. (Photo: Europol)

By Isobel van Hagen

Dutch police shut down an industrial-sized cocaine lab, seized more than 3.4 million euros (US$4.1 million) in cash and arrested nine suspects during several raids in Rotterdam, law enforcement reported on Friday.

After receiving information from Europol and the French Gendarmerie, 80 Dutch police officers,  accompanied by SWAT teams and sniffer dogs,raided several addresses in the city in the early hours of May 26.

The “clandestine” drug laboratory was found hidden in a building also housing a garage to customise vehicles with secret compartments to transport drugs across Europe, Europol reported. Eight vehicles, one worth 110,000 euros ($134,000), were also seized on site, the report said.

Both the drug laboratory and garage were run by the same criminal syndicate who was flooding Europe with cocaine," Europol said in a statement. "One of its members was arrested in Rotterdam under a European Arrest Warrant."

The sting was thewas a the result of last year’s takedown of Encrochat, an encrypted communication service used “exclusively” by organised criminal groups. At least 1,000 arrests have been made so far thanks to the hack.

The bust also follows an earlier investigation by French police back in March, in which 450 officers were deployed against the same criminal group. At the time, eight members of the group were arrested, five million euros ($6.1 million) worth of cocaine was also seized in the region of Marseille, alongside three million euros ($3.6 million) worth of cannabis resin and 3.4 million euros ($4.1 million) in cash. The cocaine was traced back to the underground laboratory targeted last week in Rotterdam