€170m coke bust sees drug lord, 85, held in northern Spain

KINGPIN: Manuel Charlin was held in Vilanove de Arousa. KINGPIN: Manuel Charlin was held in Vilanove de Arousa. FEGAMP / Twitter

A NOTORIOUS drugs kingpin has been held in a cocaine smuggling crackdown during police raids across Spain.

Manuel Charlin, 85, was arrested after armed officers swooped on his palatial mansion in Vilanova de Arousa, Galicia.

It comes after 2.5 tonnes of the drug worth more than €170 million was seized from a boat near the Azores archipelago, Portugal.

At least 18 other suspects have been held in connection with the probe, including his son Melchor Charlin, as investigators stormed properties in four other villages in the northern region plus private homes in Toledo, Huelva and Marbella.

Charlin is among the most powerful drugs lords in the country and in 1999 received a 20-year sentence for sailing 600 kilos of cocaine from Colombia to Galicia.

His Charlines clan is described by local media as "without a doubt the most violent organisation" operating in Galicia.

In 2003, he and 13 others were jailed for 15 years and fined more than €2.9 million for money laundering and tax fraud.

The sentence was later reduced to 13 years and he was freed in 2010.

Matt Ford

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