Three police officers were among those arrested in coordinated drug raids in Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and Spain.
The 54 busts across four countries this week netted a haul of 3.5 tonnes of cocaine - 2.8 tonnes of that in the Belgian port of Antwerp alone - €2 million (£1.8 million), most of it in cash, some 40 seized vehicles and 29 arrests.
Belgian federal prosecutor Frédéric van Leeuw said the detainees from the "crime syndicate" linked to Colombia included three police officers, a retired gendarme, a doctor and a lawyer.
“It’s very worrying to see how criminals can get involved in the highest spheres and try to make the legal world dirty with crime money,” he said.
“The quantity we seized can seem gigantic, but it’s infinitely small compared to what really goes through,” the prosecutor cautioned.
The giant port, which sees thousands of shipping containers arrive every day, is one of Europe's most important entry points for narcotics smugglers. The city has recently seen a spate of gun and hand grenade attacks between rival gangs operating there.
“It’s not only cocaine that is imported,” Van Leeuw said. “Criminal organisations also lodge themselves in our country, bringing along their violent and ruthless methods. We have seen what this led to in South American countries.”