AN OPERATION by Spain’s Guardia Civil and National Police Huesca has cracked an international crime ring accused of smuggling hashish from southern Spain to France according to a joint release issued on February 1.
Nine people have been arrested and 646 kilos of hashish seized, as well as four vehicles, €7,825 in cash and documents confirming the organisation’s illegal activities.
The two-stage operation began in November 2015 when officers discovered a gang using several garages in Spanish border towns Jaca and Sabinanigo to hide drug shipments destined for France.
Officers became aware that the gang was made up of members of French and North African origin, some of whom had convictions for crimes committed in Spain including those of drug trafficking, illegal possession of weapons, theft and use of false car number plates.
The gang’s elaborate system for moving their hashish was also swiftly uncovered by investigators, and is reported to have involved the ‘Go Fast method’ which saw gang members travelling between the two countries in caravans of luxury cars.
Police reports confirm that this method enabled the smugglers to minimise threats to their operation by placing the drug cargo in one vehicle, while using others as an escort to give advance warning of police controls or surveillance.
In December 2015, officers learned that one shipment originated in Estepona which led them to the discovery of the crime ring’s Spanish base within a luxury development in the Andalucia town. A shipment transported between Estepona and Jaca was then intercepted, 646 kilos of hashish and €3325 in cash seized, and six gang members arrested.
During the second phase of the organisation, police dismantled the Estepona base and arrested a further two gang members responsible for bringing the hashish in from Morocco. Another €4,555 was seized as well as 100 grams of hashish ‘samples.’
One of those arrested is confirmed to be a fugitive in France, who had until now outwitted the French justice system and avoided imprisonment for drug trafficking offences. Also implicated was a female, 25, who is accused of signing legal documents to secure leases on homes, garages and cars.
All those detained have appeared before a magistrate in Jaca, and are charged with belonging to a criminal organisation, drug trafficking and document forgery.