Europol calls global sting operation 'exceptional'

Jean-Phillipe Lecouffe, the deputy director of Europol, said at a press conference in The Hague that in all, law enforcement from 16 countries had arrested more than 800 suspects in 700 raids, seizing 8 tons of cocaine and more than $48 million in cash and cryptocurrencies.

Countries involved included Australia, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, New Zealand, Scotland, Britain, Germany, and the U.S., Lecouffe said.

The officials did not break down all arrests in each country, but Swedish official Linda Staaf said 70 had been arrested in Sweden and a Dutch official said 49 were arrested in the Netherlands.

Staaf, the Swedish Police's head of intelligence, said that the operation had prevented 10 murders.

Calvin Shivers of the U.S. FBI's Criminal Investigative Division said in The Hague that in the 18 months leading up to the operation, the agency had helped distribute the phones to 300 criminal groups in more than 100 countries.

"We were actually able to see photographs of hundreds of tons of cocaine that were concealed in shipments of fruit," Shivers said.