The official text for this page is the Spanish version. You will not be able to see the whole text in your language until its automatic translation is fully validated. In any case, should you have any doubts concerning the precision of the information translated in this site, please check the official Spanish version.

Skip to main content

International criminal organisation attempting to smuggle more than a tonne of cocaine into Spain broken up

Combined operation of the Tax Agency and the National Police

  • The members of the criminal network, run from a small town in Asturias, bought sailboats to cross the Atlantic Ocean and obtain supplies of the narcotic substance in South America, which they later brought into Spain.
  • Twelve people have been arrested in Asturias, Las Palmas, Madrid, Malaga and Valencia. More than 100 bank accounts have been blocked and more than a tonne of cocaine, three boats, more than 200,000 euros in cash and nearly 50 companies used to launder the money have been seized.

4 November 2022.- Customs Surveillance officers from the Tax Agency, in a joint operation with agents from the National Police, have dismantled, with the arrest of twelve people, a criminal organisation allegedly dedicated to large-scale cocaine trafficking by means of sailing boats from South America to Spain.The criminal structure, run from a small municipality in Asturias, acquired sailing boats to cross the Atlantic Ocean and supply themselves with cocaine which they later smuggled into Spain.

During the operation, more than a tonne of cocaine was seized from a sailing boat boarded by the Tax Agency's Customs Surveillance Service last September, three boats, more than 200,000 euros in cash and nearly 50 companies used to launder the money from the sale of narcotics.In addition, more than 100 bank accounts have been blocked.

The investigation began in 2018, when investigators detected the presence of a criminal network based in Spain that was dedicated to smuggling cocaine from different parts of South America.The first investigations led to the location of several people who, from the island of Gran Canaria, bought sailing boats to cross the Atlantic Ocean and supply themselves with cocaine, which they later smuggled into Spain.

Subsequent investigations revealed the complete structure of the criminal organisation and led to the full identification of its leader, who was involved in numerous investigations in different European countries.Such was his influence as leader of the organisation that he managed both the acquisition of the drugs in South America and their transport and distribution in Europe via Spain without the need to travel or meet with other organisations.He did so, specifically, from a small Asturian municipality.

A counter-surveillance group for the organisation's security

The organisation invested heavily in security to try to secure its internal communications to avoid detection.They also made use of state-of-the-art technology, with the latest generation of mobile phones, and even had groups integrated into the organisation that conducted counter-surveillance when meetings took place.

In addition, they had set up 50 companies which they used as fronts for laundering drug money.This network of companies was spread throughout Spain, with connections in Panama, Colombia and other European countries, where 'straw men' were employed. The role of these front men was to make it difficult to identify the real persons who were the real persons responsible for the commercial transactions intended for laundering.

A laboratory to extract the drug

To complete the investigation, more than a dozen searches were carried out throughout Spain, and a laboratory used to separate drugs from legal substances was dismantled in Valencia.In this way, they extracted the drugs previously mixed in the countries of origin in an attempt to evade police controls.

Among the narcotic substances seized were 1,275 kilograms of cocaine, 1,140 grams of marijuana, 100 grams of hashish, amphetamines in pill form and hallucinogenic mushrooms.Also seized were three boats, one of them 27 metres long and valued at 700,000 euros, nine high-end vehicles, 223,000 euros in cash, various computer equipment, 44 mobile phones, two firearms and a multitude of high-end jewellery and watches.

Film of the operation (go to the following website to download the video):