THE Guardia Civil announced on October 26 that it has smashed a gang involved in the shipping of drugs from Spain to the UK in trucks supposedly carrying oranges.
The operation began when a Malaga based Guardia Civil traffic officer stopped a truck on the A7 and suspicions were aroused when the driver rather than stay to be identified ran off. Upon investigation of the vehicle, 32 packages containing 1,034 kilos of hashish were found amongst the fruit.
As a result of this find, officers were able to trace the entire organisation involved in the smuggling which operated from premises in Marbella, Estepona, Torrox, Seville Los Palacios, Villafranca and Alcala de Guadaira.
It transpires that two companies had been formed to import and then export shipments of oranges legally and regularly from Spain to the UK. Drugs were vacuum packed in a house located in the town of Alcala de Guadaira and were hidden in boxes of oranges that were placed in the central part of the trailer, whilst surrounding pallets were loaded with oranges without drugs.
It was very difficult for sniffer dogs to identify the drugs as they were vacuum packed and in the centre of the strongly scented oranges and all of the paper work was genuine.
A total of 18 people from Algeria, France, Paraguay, Portugal and Spain were arrested including two gunmen who had been hired to protect the drugs as it was believed that the haul seized by the Guardia Civil was actually stolen by another drug operation.
The seized oranges have been passed to a food bank in Sevilla whilst the alleged criminals have been passed to the courts.