Dubai Police arrest key member of drug trafficking gang in operation ‘Sugar Cane’

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Dubai Police arrested a prominent member of a cross-border organized crime ring that smuggles drugs in sugar shipments, state news agency (WAM) reported on Thursday.

The gang, whose other members were detained in European countries, smuggled drugs between South America and Europe and operated laboratories in Europe to separate cocaine from sugar after trafficking it.

Dubai Police arrested the key member of the gang, M.D., while carrying out operation “Sugar Cane” that was coordinated between Dubai’s General Department of Anti-Narcotics and anti-narcotics departments in France, Spain and Colombia.

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The operation, which was carried out on May 5 by all countries at the scheduled zero hour, succeeded in busting the ring, arresting 18 members and confiscating 22 tons of sugar mixed with cocaine smuggled in a shipment dispatched from Colombia to the port of Le Havre in France.

Brigadier Eid Mohammed Thani Hareb, head of the General Department of Anti-Narcotics, said investigations into the gang began around a year ago.

The gang established fake shipping and commercial companies that operate between South America and Europe during the coronavirus pandemic, Hareb said, adding that it claimed it was shipping foodstuffs to Europe through France’s port of Le Havre.

French police and customs, however, soon realized that the shipments by these companies contained cocaine, he said.

Authorities thus began monitoring the sugar shipments which contained cocaine and which were dispatched from Colombia to France and Spain and monitoring the gang members’ movements.

Ten of the gang’s members were arrested in France’s Paris, Cannes, Meudon and Lyon, seven were arrested in Spain’s Madrid and Barcelona and a key member was arrested by Dubai Police.

According to Hareb, the 22 tons of confiscated sugar were packed in 900 bags and there were between 3 percent to 15 percent of cocaine mixed in them.

Hareb also said that the gang was behind smuggling 12 tons of tobacco to Belgium in August 2021 and laundering money worth millions of euros.

Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police Abdullah Khalifa al-Marri reaffirmed the UAE’s keenness to combat cross-border organized crime and noted that determining zero hour to execute the operation was major in the operation’s success.

Marri added M.D. was arrested after Dubai’s General Department of Anti-Narcotics closely monitored him based on information exchanged with French authorities.

Maj. Gen. Khabir Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansoori, assistant commander for the Criminal Investigation Affairs, said the operation also included exchanging security information with anti-narcotics departments in the US, UK and other European countries.

Inspector General of the anti-narcotics department in France Stéphanie Cherbonnier praised Dubai Police’s exceptional role in combating organized crime and contributing to busting the gang, the report added.

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