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A cargo ship with 4,500 kilos of cocaine from Colombia was seized west of the Canary Islands

Joint operation by the Tax Agency and the National Police

  • The 'Orion V', with the flag of Togo and a livestock transport destined for the Middle East, has been intercepted 62 miles southwest of the archipelago by the Customs Surveillance ship 'Fulmar'

  • The 28 crew members of the freighter, of nine different nationalities, arrested

  • International organizations are reinventing themselves when transporting drugs from Latin America to Europe, using live cattle to make their control and location difficult.

January 28, 2023 .- The Tax Agency, within the framework of a joint operation with the National Police, has intervened 62 miles southwest of the Canary Islands on the cargo ship 'Orión V' when He was carrying 4,500 kilos of cocaine. Following the interception of the ship by the Special Operations Vessel 'Fulmar' of the Customs Surveillance Service of the Tax Agency, its 28 crew members, of nine different nationalities, have been arrested. The cargo ship, with the same Togolese flag and similar dimensions as the 'Blume' boarded in the middle of this month also in waters near the Canary Islands, was transporting livestock from Colombia to the Middle East.

The American DEA, the Atlantic Analysis and Operations Center (MAOC-N) and the Intelligence Center Against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO) collaborated in the operation, as well as the Togolese authorities.

The operation begins as a result of investigations carried out jointly by the National Police and the Customs Surveillance Service, which determined the possible involvement of a vessel suspected of illicit drug trafficking from South America.

Since 2020, the National Police and the Customs Surveillance Service have been monitoring the vessel 'Orion V' (former 'Spiridon'), suspected of being used to transport significant quantities of drugs. The narcotic was loaded in port, or transferred to them on the high seas.

This vessel was already analyzed within the framework of an investigation carried out by the Central Narcotics Brigade and the Customs Surveillance Service of the Tax Agency in which, among others, the 'Santorum' brothers, in charge of the reception and introduction of significant quantities of cocaine. Despite having been subjected to control and search on that occasion, no drugs could be located inside, although there were sufficient indications to confirm that it was a vessel that transported narcotics with the excuse of transporting livestock - to countries such as Libya, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Curacao, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Macao, Kuwait and Qatar – offering products from treated and manipulated livestock in conditions suitable for international trade.

Finally, the Deputy Directorate of Customs Surveillance established an air-naval device that allowed the 'Fulmar' ship to locate and board the cargo ship on the afternoon of January 24.

After inspecting the common areas of the merchant, the presence of an undetermined number of bales usually used for cocaine trafficking was detected in a feed silo. For this reason, the 28 crew members of the boat were arrested: ten Tanzanian citizens, five Syrians, four Kenyans, two Ecuadorians, two Panamanians, two Colombians, one Dominican, one Nepalese and one Nicaraguan, as well as the seizure of the ship for its transfer to the port of Las Palmas. The operation has been directed and coordinated by the Anti-Drug Prosecutor's Office of the National Court.

Both the detainees, the boat, the drugs and the police proceedings will be placed at the disposal of the Central Investigative Court acting as Guard of the National Court.

Nine tons of cocaine in the span of a week

This operation is one more of those carried out in the fight against drug trafficking in the so-called 'Atlantic Route' of cocaine used by merchant and fishing vessels that, coming from South America, transship the narcotic substances in the middle of the Atlantic for their subsequent introduction into the European continent.

In this case, it so happens that the interception of the 'Orion V' has been carried out just six days after the one carried out on January 18, when the freighter 'Blume' was intercepted, with very similar characteristics - both with about 100 meters in length – and 4,500 kilos of cocaine on board, so that together they add up to nine tons of drugs seized in this short period of time.

Filming of operation (to download the video you must enter the following web address):