Joint investigation by the Tax Agency, Guardia Civil and the National Police
8 June 2019 .- Tax Agency officials and Civil Guard and National Police agents have dismantled a network of drug traffickers who were smuggling cocaine in containers through the port of Algeciras. The criminal organization was based in Cádiz and Seville, from where it distributed huge quantities of drugs which had been loaded into maritime containers on the American continent.
32 people have been arrested during the three phases of the operation that began in 2017. A total of 4,844 kilos of cocaine were seized, along with 43 vehicles, 87 properties valued at 16 million euros, 4 boats, one of them with a length of 43 metres, 4 hand guns, 2 shotguns, 1 silencer and 6 million euros in cash amongst other high-value items. Real estate assets worth 16 million euros were immobilized in the operation and 6 million euros in cash was seized.
The operation started in 2017
The investigation began in the first quarter of 2017 when the existence became known of an organization suspected of bringing large consignments of cocaine into the mainland using containers from South and Central America to be distributed once the different customs controls had been made.
Once the information held by the three participating organizations had been analysed, an operation was coordinated in three phases, each of which has attacked the different structures that formed the organization, until total disarticulation of both its operational structure and the management and financial structure was complete.
In the first phase, investigations led the researchers to a businessman based in Barcelona and holder of a corporate network in Spain and Brazil, which facilitated contacts for the negotiation of significant cocaine consignments that were being brought into Spanish territory through the Port of Algeciras.
The strict control exercised over the suspect and his environment managed to detect suspicious movements of several vehicles between the aforementioned harbour and two industrial warehouses in Marbella at the end of December 2017. The agents seized a van that contained 1,100 kilograms of cocaine in numerous packages, and in view of this, the search was extended to industrial warehouses, where another 2,400 kilos were discovered and five arrests were made. This is one of the largest seizures of cocaine in Spain outside the port area.
Criminal network located in South and Central America and several Spanish provinces
The second operational phase was marked by the increase in precautionary measures, already high, of the rest of those investigated. The organization's activities were practically halted in the months following the arrests. The researchers focused their efforts on discovering the workings of the organization's peripheral structure, both negotiators and representatives abroad and its distributors on the mainland. The criminal network was distributed over numerous Central and South American countries, as well as a multitude of Spanish provinces, notably the real estate network in Málaga, Cádiz, Madrid and Seville, the Andalusian capital being the main site where the drugs were kept until their final distribution.
Once all the members of the organization had been identified at the beginning of January 2019, by court order from the Court of Instruction Number 5 of the National High Court, the second investigative phase of the operation was carried out.
18 people were arrested and 26 searches were carried out in which five million euros in cash, 90 kilograms of cocaine, one of heroin, five firearms, a luxury vessel 43 metres in length and numerous evidence allowed for the accusation of the detainees for drug trafficking, membership of a criminal organization and money laundering.
The months dedicated to the investigation of the criminal group enabled a clear composition of its organizational chart, the definition of members' roles and the different structures that formed the organization, finally denoting a network dedicated to extracting illegal goods from the port offices and transporting them to the different warehouses and safe houses established mainly in the provinces of Málaga and Seville.
Within this branch of the organization, the figure of a businessman from Cádiz, based in Sotogrande, was highlighted, a key figure in the distribution and logistics of the illegal activities. At the beginning of March this year this ringleader was arrested together with eight more members, during the ten searches carried out in the province of Cádiz, specifically in Sotogrande, Algeciras and Alcalá de los Gazules.
A total of 1,254 kilograms of cocaine were seized, along with more than eight hundred thousand euros in cash, a firearm, a boat, numerous high-end vehicles and 17 properties with a value of over six million euros and 103 vehicles, owned by the detainees and the numerous companies they held, were confiscated.
Of the 32 detainees in the framework of this investigation, 25 have been placed in pre-trial detention.
Film of the operation (go to the following website address to download the video):