BRUSSELS (AP) – Belgian police launched an unprecedented crackdown on organized crime on Tuesday, the country’s federal prosecutor’s office said.
In a country of 11.5 million people, about 200 searches were carried out to mobilize more than 1,200 police officers, the office said.
A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said the search began at around 5am. According to RTBF, the search was mainly carried out in the Antwerp region, with investigators focusing on drug trafficking and international criminal networks.
With thousands of containers arriving in Antwerp every day, the Belgian port city is one of the main ports of European entry for cocaine. Trafficking in the city has recently raised a wave of violence, with gunfire and shelling.
Last year, authorities in Belgium and three other countries dismantled a criminal drug trafficking ring that smuggled hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cocaine into Western Europe. The investigation, which began when a container containing 2.8 tonnes of cocaine was found in Antwerp last year, has uncovered an international network linked to at least four European countries, including South America.