Belgian Police Crack Down on Albanian Drug Mafia in Antwerp Raids

Sarhan Basem

Brussels (Brussels Morning) – Belgian Police arrested 17 people and seized drugs, cash, and weapons in raids targeting two Albanian criminal groups in Antwerp. One group is suspected of importing cocaine and laundering it, while the other cuts and transports large amounts of drugs. 

A total of 17 arrests were made during house searches in Belgium and several other European countries as part of a major Antwerp drug investigation. There were 12 house searches, case revolves around an Albanian criminal organization.

Where did the Raid Take Place?

The raids took place in Antwerp, Schoten and Sint-Niklaas. They were a collaboration between the federal judicial police (FGP) and the Antwerp local police. After all, they were each separately involved in an investigation into several Albanian suspects. House searches also took place in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria.

Eleven suspects were caught, and six others were abroad. The latter are still awaiting their possible surrender to the Belgian justice system. During the searches, 100 kilos of drugs (cocaine and speed), firearms, chemicals, 265,000 euros in cash and even bulletproof vests were also seized.

The local police section focuses on a group of criminals who are said to specialize in cutting large quantities of drugs and then transporting them to different countries using vehicles with hidden spaces. The investigation was launched in the autumn of 2023 after several discoveries of illegal dumping in Antwerp, where empty packaging of cocaine and heroin, as well as drug production and packaging materials, were found. 

Which Gang is Involved?

The investigation led to a gang from the area around the Albanian city of Vlorë. He is said to have purchased large quantities of chemicals to cut drugs and offered these services to other (foreign) drug gangs. During the investigation, two transports to such gangs were intercepted in the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The FGP’s investigation revolves around a gang that is said to be involved in the import of cocaine from South American source countries and the operation of a cocaine laundry. That gang also comes from Vlorë. Members of the two gangs are also said to know each other, but for the time being the two investigations will remain separate. The second investigation was also started at the end of 2023, this time after an Albanian man turned out to have a lot of incriminating material on his smartphone during a police check in Antwerp. Further investigation revealed other suspects, many of whom have family ties. The gang is also linked to an armed robbery of a shipment of a shipment of marijuana weighing 395 kg in mid-February in Brussels.

The public prosecutor’s office and police say they are very satisfied with the catch. “This shows our determination to tackle criminal organizations and guarantee safety in our society,” said Antwerp prosecutor Franky De Keyzer. “Several of the suspects were not ready for trial, the ringleaders had even been sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison in 2014 for similar offences in France. The organizations are also known for violent crimes. The most important thing is that this morning’s raids by the special arrest units of the federal and Antwerp police took place without incident and the safety of our police officers was not compromised.”

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.