Brazilian police fanned out across five states and the capital early Monday to smash an international drugs trafficking ring that allegedly shipped six tons of cocaine to Europe in the last year alone.
More than 800 officers deployed to serve 127 arrest warrants and 190 search warrants in the operation centred on Latin America's biggest city, Sao Paulo, police said in a statement.
According to police, Sao Paulo served as the warehouse for cocaine from producing countries before the drug was sent by ship from the city's port, Santos, to markets in Europe.
Arrests were also being made in Minas Gerais, Santa Catarina, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul and the Federal District where the capital Brasilia is located.
The investigation began in August 2016 after Brazilian law enforcement and the US Drug Enforcement Agency began looking into five drug seizures made over the previous year in Santos and at a shipment from Santos to a Russian port, police said.
That probe led to the uncovering of a criminal web in Brazil and Europe that used Sao Paulo as its main hub. In the course of the next 12 months, Brazilian police say they made 14 cocaine seizures and were able to tip off authorities in Belgium, Britain, Italy and Spain where shipments were being sent.
In total, those seizures amounted to 5.9 tons of cocaine.