Operation of the Tax Agency, National Police and the Guardia Civil
30 July 2020.- the Customs Surveillance unit of the Tax Agency, the Civil Guard and National Police in Galicia, as part of the joint ‘Bateas’ operation, have today completed an extensive police deployment in the Pontevedra area, performing seven searches and arresting seven people who investigators have tied to the seizure, on the morning of Wednesday, 29 July, of the Spanish-flag sailboat ‘Nergha’, carrying a significant amount of cocaine, one thousand miles west of the Canary Islands and south of the Azores.
The sailboat, intercepted by officials from the three bodies travelling on board the Navy’s ‘Bam Rayo’ patrol boat, together with the five crew members arrested, is being escorted to the Canary Islands, where it is scheduled to arrive next week for a search and confirmation of the weight of the cargo being carried, which, according to investigations, was destined for the Galician coast.
The interception of the sailboat comes following a joint investigation by the Operational Customs Surveillance Unit of the Tax Agency in A Coruña, the National Police’s Organised Crime Task Force and Narcotics Task Force in Galicia, and ECO Galicia and the Civil Guard’s ECO Organised Crime Team in Galicia and the EDOA Anti-drug and Organised Crime Team in Pontevedra.The investigation has now been handed over to the Central Instructional Court No. 4 at the National High Court.
Since December 2019, different units of the three bodies have been working together to investigate the illegal activities undertaken by a criminal organisation in the region of Salnés (Pontevedra).
The process has allowed investigators not only to obtain information about the criminal intentions of the members of the organisation, but also to identify the means of transport they intended to use to transport a major cocaine consignment to Spain.
During the second quarter of the year, police work focused on controlling both the means of transport (which was undergoing repair and transformation at different ports in the province of Pontevedra) and the crew, in addition to those who, located at the top of the hierarchy of the criminal organisation being investigated, decided on the strategy with the suppliers for the transportation of the cargo.
Arrests on land and at sea
The sailboat in question, registered in Vigo, left the port of Cobres (Pontevedra) on 16 June 2020, and after stopping in Cascais (Portugal) and Cadiz, headed south-west, reaching a position around 600 miles west of Cape Verde, where it took on the drug shipment, which had departed an unknown location on the coast of South America.From here, it headed north, to the point at which it was finally apprehended.
Aboard the vessel were four crew members who departed Pontevedra province in June (two Spaniards, one Portuguese and one Brazilian), plus a fifth crew member, who was also Spanish, whose means of boarding the vessel remains unknown.
Meanwhile, as a result of the investigation carried out on land, today an important operation was deployed in the province of Pontevedra, with seven arrests and seven searches taking place, as part of which material including documentation relating to the drug that the organisation was attempting to transport to Spain has been seized.
Arrival of the sailboat in Las Palmas
The sailboat, accompanied by the Navy’s ‘Bam Rayo’ patrol boat, is travelling to the port of Las Palmas, where it is due to arrive next week for the boat to be searched and the drug to be weighed.
The sailboat in question caught the attention of Galicia's investigators when, last December 2019, following an erratic navigation path off the Galician coasts, it had to request support from Sea Rescue to reach port. This confirms the reactivation of sea transport as one of the most popular methods used for attempting to introduce cocaine into Europe, as several police operations have shown in recent months.