SPAIN’S National police have busted a drugs organisation and seized 1.3 tons of cocaine in an operation that took in Alicante, Madrid and Galicia.
The force worked with the Colombian Attorney General’s Office’s Delegate Against Organised Crime and the USA’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), to bring down the gang.
In Marín, Pontevedra, more than 1,300 kilos of cocaine from Colombia were seized, which were intended for distribution in Spain. Police say the detainees are experienced drivers who had top-of-the-range, high-capacity cars to make an easy escape if they were detected by the police.
In addition, 10 people have been arrested in Galicia and Madrid and two searches have been carried out in the hotel where they had their base of operations and in a workshop for buying and selling vehicles, and €550,000 in cash and 10 luxury vehicles have been seized.
The investigation began in early June last year when officers detected a criminal organisation seeking to smuggle one and a half tonnes of cocaine from Colombia into Spain, at which point a joint investigation was launched with the Colombian authorities.
For the reception and distribution of the drug, the organisation used a group of what police describe as dangerous criminals who had been operating together for many years.
Investigators say the group was highly organised and used sophisticated communications and security techniques to try and keep one step ahead of police.
They also had high-end, very powerful and high-capacity vehicles to be able to easily evade police controls or escape in case of being detected by the police. On their trips, they usually used a vehicle that led a convoy to warn drugs carrying vehicles of any police checkpoints.
Police say that the members of the organisation – all Spanish – had numerous police records for serious offences including homicides, robberies, theft, money laundering, crimes against traffic safety, false documentation and attacks on authority. Some had more than 50 previous offences listed against them.
After several weeks, the agents detected that the drug traffickers used to hold meetings in Madrid, where some of those under investigation were based, and once they had finished, they would travel to Alicante or Galicia in the early hours of the morning at high speed.
In one of these meetings, the investigators confirmed that instead of returning to their cities of residence, they had chosen a hotel to concentrate on as their base of operations. Later, agents also found a car buying and selling workshop, which allegedly supplied them with the large capacity cars to carry out their operations.
The operation culminated in the arrest of 10 people and the dismantling of the criminal organisation. Five were surprised and arrested when they entered a warehouse located in Marín (Pontevedra) where 1,300 kilos of cocaine were seized.
At the same time that the drugs were being seized in Galicia, the other five members were arrested in Madrid while transporting the money from the cocaine sale.
The agents carried out two searches, one at the hotel they were using as their base of operations and the other at the workshop where they were buying and selling. They also seized various documents, 10 luxury vehicles and 20 telephones.