According to Spanish police, they detained 30 persons on suspicion of transporting drugs into Ukraine under the cover of humanitarian help. The group allegedly used vans with Ukrainian registration plates to deliver boxes of marijuana, according to the Guardia Civil.
Authorities were first made aware of the situation when Ukrainian nationals were spotted gathering marijuana in Andalucia, a province in southern Spain. Two trucks with 109 kilograms of cannabis vacuum-packed in cartons were found by the police.
According to a statement, the group had disguised themselves to be part of a solidarity caravan” to dodge police and border inspections. This crew traveled to several locations in Andalusia to get marijuana that had already been packaged. They then moved the marijuana and kept it in a Mijas apartment while exercising extreme caution.
Among the suspects detained are citizens of Ukraine, Germany, Spain, and Morocco. In addition to other offenses, they are all charged with drug trafficking, membership in a criminal group, unlawful possession of firearms, and electricity fraud. During their arrest, two criminals also attempted to escape, even bashing a police car with theirs, injuring two police officers only slightly. They are also charged with assaulting a police officer.
Nearly €800,000 ($847,000) as well as six firearms and 2,500 cannabis plants were recovered during the operations in Malaga as well as the southern towns of Seville, Cordoba, and Granada.
Twenty people were detained by the Guardia Civil last month for possessing more than 32 tons of marijuana that were kept in the Spanish cities of Valencia, Ciudad Real, Asturias, and Toledo and sold “through a complex business network” that involved shipping the vacuum-packed marijuana throughout Spain as well as to Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Belgium, and other nations in Europe.
The investigators conduct a total of 11 house searches in the province of Malaga during the first stage of their investigation. Items of note are the 740,400 euros, 25,250 dollars, 20 kilograms of cannabis buds, 1,000 cannabis plants, a short-fire weapon, and various police equipment, such as ballistic vests and GPS tracking devices, that were found there.
11 persons were detained during the initial stage of the operation for various offenses, including drug trafficking, membership in a criminal gang, unlawful possession of weapons, and electricity fraud.
Because of the size of the organization, some of the acts were held back for a later stage of exploitation. Currently, the regions of Granada, Cordoba, and Seville are home to 14 drug suppliers who have been detained by the Civil Guard.
1,500 cannabis plant, 10 kgs of packed marijuana, five guns, and 15,000 euros in cash have been seized by the Civil Guard during these eight raids.
The members of the Malaga Civil Guard Command’s Organized Crime and Anti-Drug Team and OCON Sur have all worked together to carry out the operation, with assistance from CRAIN, the GAR, and the other concerned Commands.
PREVIOUS BIG DRUG BUST IN SPAIN
In the port of Valencia, 5.6 tonnes of cocaine worth over 340 million euros was seized, according to Spanish authorities, at the end of November. This was the country’s largest haul of drugs in the previous four years.
According to a statement by the interior ministry, police searched a suspected shipping container that had just arrived from South America at one of Europe’s largest ports in the Mediterranean and discovered the drugs.
The term “Rey” (Spanish for “king”) was inscribed in capital letters on a stack of bricks of what appeared to be cocaine that was wrapped in plastic, according to a ministry image.
After developing concerns that criminal gangs were “taking advantage” of the legitimate import of fruit and vegetables to transfer drugs to Spain “from the other side of the Atlantic,” the authorities launched the investigation that resulted in the seizure in 2021.
There have been no arrests to date, according to a Guardia Civil police official in Valencia, but the investigation is still ongoing.
When the operation occurred and where the container ship had come from were not disclosed by the authorities.
Two days before the news of the narcotics seizure, Europol announced that law enforcement agencies from six different nations, including Spain, had dismantled a “super cartel” of drug dealers that was in charge of nearly a third of the cocaine trade in Europe.
The coordinated operation, according to Spain’s Guardia Civil, resulted in the arrest of 15 people nationwide.
The cartel would use the Mediterranean ports of Algeciras, Barcelona, and Valencia to transport cocaine from Panama to Spain while laundering the money it made by purchasing properties along Spain’s southern coast.
Due to its strong ties to old colonies in Latin America, the world’s major producer of cocaine, and its closeness to North Africa, a major supplier of hashish, Spain has become a major entry point for drugs into Europe.
SPANISH LAW ENFORCEMENT AND MARIJUANA
The Civil Guard, one of Spain’s two national police agencies, is the country’s oldest law enforcement organization and was in charge of the bust. Being a national gendarmerie, it has a military orientation and is in charge of civil policing under the direction of both the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry. The Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) coordinated and successfully investigated and apprehended drug smugglers who were using Ukrainian Aid trucks to smuggle drugs and bypass police checkpoints.
The ODAIFI (Oficinas de Análisis e Investigación Fiscadivision) is the division under the Guardia Civil in charge of the investigation for the prosecution of criminal offenses, notably detection of illegal goods (especially money, drugs, and stolen objects) at points of entry to Spain.
The Spanish authorities are quite strict and frown on the trade of marijuana in the country . Any amount of marijuana sold or imported is illegal and subject to jail time. Cannabis purchases, possession, and use in public places are all considered misdemeanors that are punished by fines and product confiscation.
Cannabis plants that are visible from the street or a public area (such as from balconies) are regarded as a significant administrative crime and are subject to fines ranging from 601 to 30,000 euros. The cannabis industry in Spain and Europe has a long way to go.