National Police have arrested four people in the Asturian town of Avilés for trafficking large quantities of cocaine into Europe, using a system police say is first of its kind in Spain.
The detained used a complex system that consisted of stashing the drugs in vents in the hull of merchant ships that set sail from South America, later recovering the narcotics upon arrival in Europe.
Two of the four were arrested while recovering the drugs, after a four-day police surveillence operation, according to a National Police statement.
Two other alleged members of the organisation were subesquently arrested.
The investigation was launched following an alert about professional divers working for a Colombian drug trafficking organisation, hiding and retrieving narcotics in large-tonnage vessels.
According to the police, the suspects would wait for the ships to be berthed in the ports in South America, and from a safe distance, entered the water with the drugs, and without leaving the water, would open vents in the lower part of the hull of these ships.
Once the ship sailed to its destination, the same group would move to Europe, in this case to Spain, and do the same operation in reverse.
In this way, the National Police say they were able to introduce large quantities of drugs, between 100 to 200 kilos each time.
The operation was carried out jointly with the National Aeronaval Service of Panama, the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Police of Peru.