THE Guardia Civil announced on August 5 that in conjunction with the National Police in an operation named Piranha-Furgonazo, they have smashed a criminal gang which was operating within the province of Malaga and have seized 2,860 kilos of hashish.
No less than 11 people have been arrested in San Roque, Nerja, Torrox, Vélez de Benaudalla and Olula del Río and are charged with drug trafficking, money laundering and belonging to a criminal organisation.
In addition to the actual drugs, the operation has seized documents, 15 vehicles, equipment for the preparation and packing of drugs, mobile phones as well as property and personal effects estimated at a value of €741,000.
The investigation began in December of last year when researchers became aware of the existence of an individual in Nerja who it was suspected might be involved in the smuggling of drugs between Morocco and Malaga. After several months of investigation agents were able to determine that he belonged to an organisation sending drugs to several countries within the European Union.
The criminal network was carrying large amounts of hashish from Morocco to the province of Malaga. Once in Malaga, it was packed and hidden in false floors in a number of trucks and vans in two buildings located in Mijas and Villanueva del Trabuco and then sent to France, Italy and the Netherlands.
In addition to its own vehicles, the organisation also used a transport company in Almeria to move large quantities of drugs from Spain to France as part of its regular international operations.
Having obtained sufficient evidence, the investigating officers informed the French police that there would be a new shipment through the Almeria company. With this information the French police stopped an HGV belonging to that company and found 1,323 kilograms of hashish hidden inside, which was on route to Lyon. Subsequent to this, having ‘tipped off’ Moroccan police another 1,150 kilograms of hashish were found hidden in another truck in Tangiers.
Finally in Spain, the joint operation intercepted the last shipment of drugs in a van on the A44 near Casabermeja which was en route to Toulouse. Due to the complexity of the hiding place, officers were initially unable to find any contraband, but one of their ‘sniffer dogs’ indicated the hiding place and a further 387 kilograms were discovered.