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Dutch police and French Gendarmerie bust Rotterdam cocaine factory after Encrochat investigation

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By Hannah Somerville
Part of the haul seized from the clandestine factory in Rotterdam, the Netherlands on Wednesday
Part of the haul seized from the clandestine factory in Rotterdam, the Netherlands on Wednesday   -   Copyright  Europol
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More than €3.4 million in cash has been seized and nine people arrested after police shut down an industrial-sized cocaine lab in the Netherlands.

More than 80 Dutch police officers together with SWAT teams and sniffer dogs descended on a set of addresses in Rotterdam on Wednesday, Europol has since revealed.

The clandestine laboratory was discovered inside a building also being used by criminals to fit out vehicles with secret compartments, allowing them to smuggle drugs across Europe. Eight vehicles were seized from the site.

"Both the drug laboratory and garage were run by the same criminal syndicate who was flooding Europe with cocaine," Europol said in a statement. "One of its members was arrested in Rotterdam under a European Arrest Warrant."

The Dutch police were helped in their investigations by the French Gendarmerie. The bust came as part of a wider investigation into Encrochat: an encrypted chat app that shut down last year after police infiltration revealed it was being widely used by organised criminals. At least 1,000 arrests have since been made,

The sting also follows an earlier action day by the French Gendarmerie on March 31, which saw 450 of its officers deployed against the same criminal group.

Eight members of the gang were arrested and €5 million worth of cocaine was also seized in the Marseille region, alongside €3 million worth of cannabis resin and €3.4 million in cash. The cocaine was traced back to the Rotterdam factory shut down this week.