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The Tax Agency has intercepted a narco mother ship carrying 4,700 kilos of hashish in waters east of the Strait of Gibraltar

The fight against drug trafficking

  • This is the largest quantity of hashish ever seized by the Customs Surveillance Service in a single semi-rigid inflatable boat.
  • The three people aboard the narco-boat, all of Moroccan nationality, were arrested
  • The boat, detected by Customs Surveillance aerial assets, has a power of 1,200 hp distributed among four outboard engines.

31 December 2021.- The Tax Agency’s Customs Surveillance Service intercepted a semi-rigid boat carrying more than 4,700 kilos of hashish in waters to the east of the Strait of Gibraltar, leading to the arrest of the three people aboard, all of Moroccan nationality.The operation, deployed using naval air assets last Wednesday night, led to the largest seizure of hashish made by Customs Surveillance in a single narco-boat to date.The investigators believe this boat acted as a mother ship, or supplier of other rubber dinghies that would bring the drugs into Spanish territory.

The operation began when the Tax Agency's air control assets spotted, east of the Strait of Gibraltar, a 12-metre-long semi-rigid boat with four 300 hp outboard engines carrying a large quantity of packages of the same type as those normally used to transport narcotic substances.

A naval air operation was immediately set up and two Customs vessels based in Algeciras were sent to search for the target. These ended up intercepting the semi-rigid vessel by surprise when it was waiting to trans-ship the cargo to other small boats.

Crew members with no material space on the narco-boat

After noting the large number of burlap bales the narco-boat was carrying and arresting its three occupants, the officers headed back to the Algeciras base, where they counted 148 bundles of hashish, weighing approximately 4,700 kilos.

Unlike other types of vessels, such as merchant ships, fishing boats or sailing boats, the interception of which has sometimes led to seizures of even greater amounts of hashish by the Tax Agency's Customs Surveillance Service, the investigators in this operation were surprised by the size of the load for a single semi-rigid boat (larger seizures have been made in the case of two or more rubber dinghies intercepted in a single operation), even taking into account its role as a mother ship.

When the narco-boat was searched, the Customs Surveillance officers were able to ascertain that the boat lacked the minimum conditions for habitability.The boat's occupants had no material space to move from their seats, as they were literally surrounded by the burlap bales, which even extended past the inflatable's floats.

The effects of the legal ban on narco-boats

The publication of Royal Decree-Law 16/2018, which considers this type of boat prohibited when they lack the corresponding authorisation, has significantly affected the operations carried out by drug trafficking organisations, which are trying to conserve their 'narco-boats' to a greater extent than before, as they are faced with an increasing scarcity of these types of vessels.

This has led to increased logistical support from other organisations that provide fuel, maintenance and repairs to mother ships, which to a greater extent than before wait for days at sea for the arrival of smaller boats to load the drugs to be smuggled ashore.

In light of this, the surveillance work being done by the Customs Surveillance Service is making it possible to carry out operations such as this, where they intervene in the middle of the drug distribution chain and, therefore, before the attempt to smuggle the drugs onto Spanish coasts can take place.

The detainees, together with the drugs and other effects seized, have now been handed over to the competent judicial authority.

This operation is part of the maritime routes surveillance carried out by the Tax Agency through its Customs Department, which participates in the Special Security Plan for the Campo de Gibraltar.

Customs Supervision:Presentation of charges for smuggling and related offences

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