24 Arrests After Portuguese Authorities Seize Cocaine Hidden In Frozen Acai Berry Shipment

Image of drugs seized in police raids in Portugal and Spain.

Image of drugs seized in police raids in Portugal and Spain. Credit: Europol

An international law enforcement operation supported by Europol led to the dismantling of a Brazilian cartel flooding Europe with cocaine. 

As revealed in a statement from Europol this Wednesday, July 5, a number of actions have been carried out over recent months in Brazil, Spain and Portugal to target the members of this highly professional criminal syndicate.

On May 4, coordinated raids involving Spain’s National Police and the Policia Judiciária from Portugal were carried out in their respective territories.

In Spain, 20 house searches were executed in the provinces of Málaga, Cordoba, Madrid, Cantabria, and Vizcaya. Another four were conducted in the Portuguese municipalities of Cascais and Sintra, resulting in a total of 24 arrests.

Over 73 kilos of methamphetamine, five firearms and more than €116,000 in cash were seized. Seven other members of the same gang had been arrested previously in Spain, Portugal and Brazil.

This series of arrests follows the June 2022 seizure of 800 kilos of cocaine hidden in a container of frozen acai berries originating from Brazil, in the port of Sines, Portugal.

In the framework of intelligence activities underway with its operational counterparts, Europol developed reliable intelligence concerning international drug trafficking by a Brazilian organised crime network operating in several EU countries.

The Brazilian criminal syndicate had direct contact with cocaine producers in Brazil and other South American source countries.

It was believed to be responsible for the preparation and shipment of cocaine in maritime containers bound for major European ports.

In August 2022, Europol brought together investigators from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, who subsequently worked together to establish a joint strategy to bring the whole network down.

Since then, Europol provided continuous intelligence development and analysis to support the field investigators. During the action day in Brazil, two Policia Federal officers were deployed on the ground in Brazil to assist the national authorities, ensuring swift analysis of new data as it was collected during the action.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com