A JOINT operation involving investigators and customs officials from Spain and Italy has led to the seizure of more than 2.7 tonnes of cocaine with a street value of more than €500 million.
According to Italy’s financial police, the organised crime networks behind the trafficking belong to a Colombian group called the ‘Gulf Clan’ that is active in several European ports.
The first of two Barcelona-bound hauls was seized at the port of Livorno in Italy on January 15. Some 644 kilograms with a street value of almost €150 million was found hidden in bags of Honduran coffee.
The stash was travelling on board a Portuguese-flagged cargo ship and had originated in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, with transfers in Costa Rica and southern Spain.
Eight days later, the National Police confirmed 2.1 tons of cocaine, divided into 1,801 packages, and destined for Barcelona, was discovered in a container that had been declared empty. It had been dispatched from Colombia’s Turbo point.
Authorities intercepted the shipment and replaced the drugs with salt before sending it on its way, enabling Spanish to arrest a 59-year-old Spaniard who was waiting to receive it.
The international investigation continues.