SPAIN has busted a massive cocaine smuggling gang that includes the doctor of the ex-Argentina football legend Diego Maradona.
The National Police coordinated a major international operation that lasted a year, and saw a tonne of cocaine seized, and 18 people arrested in Spain, Colombia, Holland, and Bulgaria.
The crooks cleverly got the drugs into Spain by mixing them with the cardboard used to line boxes carrying fruit.
The cardboard was then taken to Colombian chemical experts that had travelled all the way to Holland and Bulgaria just to extract the cocaine from the innocent-looking material.
The chemists then returned to South America via Spain after completing their duties.
Authorities became suspicious of something going on when they started to track the behaviour of a doctor in Columbia who once treated the footballer Diego Maradona.
He had previously been arrested on drugs charges and it was discovered that he used his workplace to set up deals with drug dealers who hatched the cardboard smuggling plot, with the fruit being shipped to Europe from the Latin American country.
A big breakthrough happened when the police intercepted a big shipment in Bulgaria that was bound for Greece with nearly seven thousand boxes of limes and pineapples.
That yielded the confiscation of a tonne of cocaine, whilst their Dutch colleagues seized large quantity of cardboard as well as chemicals used to separate the drug from the cardboard
In addition to the tonne of cocaine confiscated in Bulgaria, Dutch authorities have seized more than 1.2 tonnes of compressed cardboard and more than 1,000 litres of the chemicals used to extract the cocaine.