Police from seven countries arrested 17 people in the island of Curacao Tuesday suspected of involvement in an international drug ring with links to Hizbullah, Dutch authorities said.
The group is suspected of having traded in some 2,000 kilograms of cocaine per year, the Dutch prosecution service said in a statement.
“The group shipped containers with cocaine from Curacao to the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Jordan,” it said. “From Venezuela, containers with drugs went to West Africa and then to the Netherlands, Lebanon and Spain. Carriers smuggled the cocaine as airline passengers from Curacao and Aruba into the Netherlands.”
The proceeds were allegedly invested in several countries, said the statement.
“The organization had international contacts with other criminal networks that financially supported Hizbullah in the Middle East. Large sums of drug money flooded into Lebanon, from where orders were placed for weapons that were to have been delivered from South America.”
The suspects were from Curacao, the largest of the Dutch Antilles islands, as well as from Venezuela, Colombia, Lebanon and Cuba, said the statement.
The arrests were the result of a joint operation between the police and judicial authorities of Curacao, the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Venezuela and the United States.