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The Tax Agency seizes five tonnes of hashish in a special operation to reinforce surveillance in the Straits of Gibraltar

Operation Marchoco

  • In the space of a week, 24 Customs Surveillance Service crews from the 14 patrol boats stationed in Andalusia have carried out 12 chases, located and monitored 21 'narco-boats' and intercepted two of them, forcing the rest to dump their cargo into the sea and desist from their attempts to smuggle them.

  • The operation has received satellite support with state-of-the-art resources and has been backed up by two helicopters and the support of the Special Operations Vessel 'Fulmar' of the Tax Agency as a mobile station.

23 June 2022.- The Tax Agency's Customs Surveillance Service has seized five tonnes of hashish in several actions carried out in the space of a week on semi-rigid vessels in the waters of the Strait of Gibraltar and the Alboran Sea.The actions, included in the framework of the special operation called 'Marchoco', to reinforce surveillance in the area, have been carried out in accordance with the Agency's general control guidelines for 2022, which establish maritime surveillance as a priority in the fight against the trafficking of hashish from North Africa.

The operation, deployed during the first week of June, has involved a large deployment of naval and air resources and is aimed at implementing new procedures for the repression and fight against the illegal activities of smuggling mafias in the waters of the Strait of Gibraltar and Alboran.

As a result of this operation, 21 'narco-boats' dedicated to transporting large quantities of hashish from Morocco have been located and monitored in international waters, two semi-rigid vessels have been seized and more than five tonnes of hashish have been seized.

Destabilisation of organisational logistics

Beyond the volume of seizures, the relevance of the operation also lies in the intense destabilisation of logistics and illicit activity in the area, with the Customs Surveillance Service's naval air assets carrying out a total of 12 chases of 'narco-boats', which were forced to return to seek refuge in Moroccan waters after having to get rid of their merchandise by throwing it into the sea, thus thwarting possible caches.

Within the framework of the operation, it is worth highlighting the action carried out by the patrol boat 'Colimbo II' on 6 June, in coordination with the helicopter 'Argos I', with a coordinated high-speed pursuit of two 'narco-boats' loaded with large quantities of hashish.In this action, one of the boats was intercepted and a total of 150 bales (around 4,000 kilos of hashish) were seized, most of which were thrown into the sea during the pursuit and recovered by the auxiliary vessels of the 'Fulmar'.

Extensive naval aviation deployment

The operation involved 24 crews from the 14 patrol boats stationed at the maritime bases of the Regional Operational Unit of Andalusia.In addition, the 'Fulmar', which left the port of Cadiz at the start of the campaign, has acted as a mobile station at sea for the implementation of new initiatives related to operational tactics.In addition, two Customs Surveillance Service helicopters stationed at air bases close to the critical target convergence zones in the Alboran area have been involved, and increased satellite coverage has been provided with state-of-the-art resources.

Surveillance and control actions have been planned at a strategic level by the Customs Surveillance Directorate.The operation has been directed by the heads of the Air Force of the General Operations Sub-Directorate and the Special Delegation of the Tax Agency in Andalusia, Ceuta and Melilla, coordinated through the Permanent Operational Coordination Centre of the Customs Surveillance Service.

This combined action by naval air assets, reinforced with the support of the SVA's Maritime Intelligence Offices, is part of the strategy to combat drug trafficking set out in the Tax Agency's 2022 Annual Tax and Customs Control Plan.

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