With the support of Europol, the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and Tax Agency (Agencia Tributaria), in cooperation with the Portuguese Judicial Police (Polícia Judiciária) have dismantled an organized crime network involved in large-scale drugs trafficking, arresting eight of its members. These criminals were about to smuggle 15 tons of hashish into Spain when they were arrested.
The investigation began at the end of last year after the Spanish investigators uncovered an organized crime group smuggling hashish from Morroco to Spain using different types of vessels. Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) assisted with the analysis of the criminals’ financial transactions, mapping out the full network spread out across Spain and Portugal.
The investigation quickly focused on one particular vessel – known as the SEEFUCHS acquired by the criminal group in November 2020. The vessel was moved by the criminals to the Portuguese town of Portimao, where they changed its color and increased its storage capacity.
In June of this year, the SEEFUCHS set sail to Morocco, under close surveillance from law enforcement. Once the drugs were loaded onto the vessel, the criminals sailed back towards the Gibraltar Strait. The vessel was stormed by Spanish law enforcement some 100 nautical miles south of the Spanish coast.
During the operation, five individuals were arrested and 15 tons of hashish seized in the boat’s cargo. Five house searches were carried out simultaneously across Spain, resulting in the arrest of three other members of this same gang, together with the seizure of €60 000 (US$71,241) in cash. A luxury yacht which was also used for drugs transportation was seized in Lanzarote.
A Europol specialist was deployed to Spain during the action day to support the authorities with the cross-checking in real time of operational information gathered during the raids carried out on that day.