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A SEMANA : Primeiro di?rio caboverdiano em linha

Police seize 1,500 kilos of cocaine in Operation Speed Boat, three Praia-based firms believed to be involved 10 October 2011

Although authorities have not yet released the identity of the firms in question, several major real-estate businesses headquartered in Praia, as well as a recently-created automobile distributor in Praia, are believed to be involved in a network that used Cape Verde as one of its main warehouses for cocaine on its way to Europe. The network, which is believed to be headed by a Cape Verdean woman living in the Netherlands, was dismantled this weekend by a Judiciary Police operation entitled “Speed Boat,” which resulted in the seizure of more than 1.5 metric tons of cocaine and was the fruit of cooperation between Cape Verdean and Dutch authorities. A high-level official in one of Cape Verde’s largest financial institutions is also suspected of being involved in the illicit dealings.

Police seize 1,500 kilos of cocaine in Operation Speed Boat, three Praia-based firms believed to be involved

The mega-operation resulted in Cape Verde’s largest drug bust ever: more than one and a half metric tons of cocaine from Colombia, more than 90,000 Euros’ worth of cash in various currencies, five luxury vehicles, a speed boat, four machine guns and various other firearms were seized. Operation Speed Boat, which was carried out Saturday and Sunday in three Praia neighborhoods – Achada de Santo António, Palmarejo and Fazenda – by Judiciary Police, also resulted in the arrest of three individuals. The suspects, Quirino, Paulo and a brother of the latter, will be taken before Praia district court for an initial hearing this afternoon.

It is also known that three major real-estate firms headquartered in Praia are believed to be involved in money laundering and drug trafficking. An automobile dealership recently created in Praia is also among the suspects.

As far as A Semana Online has been able to learn, the drugs would arrive from Colombia, via Brazil, and be stored in Cape Verde on their way to the Netherlands and Germany. The transshipment of the drugs would be carried out on the high seas using to speed boats, one of which encountered mechanical problems and was set on fire by its owners, which ended up precipitating the events that led to the operation. The drugs were taken to the basement of a building with 40 apartments in Praia’s Achada de Santo António neighborhood – the same building housing the Ministry of Finances directorship – owned by a Cape Verdean émigrée in the Netherlands (the alleged ring leader).

Operation Speed Boat was the result of cooperation between the Public Ministries of Cape Verde and the Netherlands. Indeed, the Dutch Minister of Justice himself has expressed interest in signing a cooperation protocol with Cape Verdean authorities in order to resolve cases of this type, but Cape Verde has yet to respond to the request.

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