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Australian customs busts drug racket of 400 people, seizes 100kg heroin, cocaine

Australian customs busts drug racket of 400 people, seizes 100kg heroin, cocaine

MELBORN:  The gang is suspected of having brought large quantities of drugs from Macedonia to the EU, have been arrested, According to report.

400 people have been arrested, with 100 kg of heroin, cocaine and cannabis seized, as well as a large amount of cash. Police in various countries have been investigating the network since 2010.

The gang recruited its members mostly in Macedonia, who were then tasked with the packaging and smuggling of drugs into the EU through the so-called Balkan route.

According to police reports, security agencies have arrested the majority of the senior leadership of the gang, in locations in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Macedonia.

Four tons of drug cutting agents were also seized, indicating the significant scale of the network’s operation, Europol said.

The joint investigation team set out to permanently destroy the criminal organisation in the former Macedonia as well as its cells in Vienna and Frankfurt. The law enforcement team operated at these locations as well as in Rotterdam.

Afghanistan is the primary source of heroin encountered in the EU; there is significant trafficking towards Europe of heroin that has exited Afghanistan via the borders with Pakistan and Iran, the latter offering the shortest and most direct route to Europe.

From Iran, heroin is smuggled across the border with Turkey and reaches Europe travelling along the Balkan Route. Much of this heroin transits Bulgaria via the former Yugoslavia and Slovenia to Italy or Austria, or via Macedonia and Albania to Italy, or via Romania, Hungary or Ukraine to Slovakia/Czech Republic or Poland, and then to Austria or Germany.

According to data released by Europol, about a third of all organized crime groups operating in the EU are involved in the production and distribution of drugs.

Drug trafficking continues to be very profitable, despite a moderate decline in the level of heroin use. The market value of illicit opiates in the EU is estimated at €12 billion.