Drug Lords Of Dubai

Dubai has long been a haven for some of the most notorious drug lords in Europe and has a history of protecting European criminals, particularly those involved in the cocaine trade.

Submitted By Georgia Gee of Whale Hunting, a weekly newsletter delving into the hidden worlds of wealth and power

Photo illustration by Ryan Ho

“Dubai did become a bit of a mecca for all sorts of interesting individuals on the run,” Alex Yearsly, an expert on money laundering, tells us in our new podcast Gateway.

We’ve already reported on how Dubai is a refuge for oligarchs and kleptocrats. But for years, it has also had a history of protecting European criminals — in particular those controlling the cocaine trade. With its lax attitude to shell companies and regulation as well as its lack of extradition treaties, the UAE became home to the big drug lords, those known as the “super cartel.”

“They’re gone, nobody’s here anymore.” Belgian journalist Joris van der Aa told Gateway. “Dubai is a bandit country… They say you’re, you’re welcome here with your drug money, please, please behave. And you’re welcome.”

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It’s only in the last few years that the empires have begun to fall, as coordinated raids took down the smuggling trade. But, in many cases even if criminals are arrested, they eventually get released.

A huge raid in November conducted last year in Dubai resulted in the arrest of six cocaine kingpins. Now, two of them — Bosinian narco-boss Edin Gačanin “Tito” and Dutch-Moroccan Zohair Belkhair  — are missing. The Dutch said they have no idea where they are. Both were then reported to have been freed after the official extradition offer was rejected.

The Mexican TV channel Milenio published an article titled ‘Mexican cartels prepare for war; they have military-grade ROCKET LAUNCHERS’ that showed a drug cartel spotted with an anti-tank rocket launcher near Texas.

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