60 million euros worth of cocaine found on sailing boat in Canary Islands waters
Agents of the National Police and the Tax Agency, in collaboration with the British NCA and the French NRED, have seized over a ton of cocaine hidden in a modern sailboat which boarded by the Special Operations Group (GEO) and Surveillance Customs in Canary Islands waters off the coast of Lanzarote. It is the second drug trafficking organization, working out of Malaga, dismantled in less than a month. To seize the drugs it was necessary to break the sides of the ship's hull, where 1,018 one-kilogram packages of cocaine hydrochloride were hidden in an undetectable place with a simple inspection.
Following the intervention at sea and property searches in Malaga, the three crew members of the boat and five other people living in different towns in Malaga have been arrested, among which are the alleged leaders of the criminal gang, the National Police have reported.
They have explained in a statement that the boarding of the boat was extremely dangerous for the Special Ops agents, since the competition sailing boat, which is 18 metres long and five metres wide valued at one million euros, reaches speeds of more than 20 knots.
The crew was made up of experts in skippering modern racing sailboats, who registered the boats in regattas in order to be able to discreetly transport large quantities of narcotic substances from South America to Europe. The investigation and operation have been coordinated by the Court of Instruction number 2 of Arrecife, in Lanzarote.
The investigation began at the end of 2020 as a result of the intelligence work carried out around port infrastructures, and with which several European citizens were discovered, located in various towns of Malaga and Levante (east coast region of Spain), all linked to maritime transport of cocaine on boats.
Shortly after, they discovered the existence of a criminal organization of drug traffickers, who specialized in the transport of narcotic substances from South America to Spain on modern racing sailboats. For this, the group had expert skippers and sailors settled in Spain and specialized in navigating this class of vessels, but who also had a long criminal record for this activity.
Later in the investigation, the agents had the collaboration of the British NCA and the French NRED because members of the organization had travelled regularly between the UK, Alicante, Malaga and Caribbean islands such as Martinique and Saint Lucia.
With this information, investigators deployed teams at sea and on land to achieve the total dismantling of the organization, given that it had boats that required government navigation experts.
The haul of 1,018 packages of one kilogram of cocaine hydrochloride worth over 60 million euros, had been perfectly hidden in a false bottom next to the petrol tanks of the, a space that was very difficult to access and disguised in such a way that it was undetectable with a simple inspection or without fracturing the fibreglass walls that made up the hull of the boat.
During the arrest of the five people in the province of Malaga, ten kilograms of ketamine, 65,000 euros in cash, three high-end vehicles, various documents related to money laundering, mobile phones, computers and electronic and communication equipment were confiscated.
In addition, bank accounts have been blocked and a ban on the sale of various properties worth 500,000 euros has been ordered. Likewise, during the searches, documentation was found for various boats, as well as the acquisition of spare parts and pieces of nautical clothing with inscriptions of the boat sailboat and the regattas they were registered in.
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TWO ORGANIZATIONS DISMANTLED IN LESS THAN THREE WEEKS:
As reported, thanks to this operation, the National Police and the Tax Agency have managed to dismantle a second British criminal organization in the province of Malaga in less than three weeks, after the operation carried out with the boarding of the sailboat 'Windwhisper', in which another 1,000 kilos of cocaine were seized.
This is the result of more than a year and a half of investigations on the individuals who supposedly carried out the smuggling, but also on the investors, financiers and those responsible for the acquisition of the narcotic substance, who did not hesitate to carry out trafficking hashish while they were preparing significant cocaine transport operations.
In total, 25 individuals have been arrested between the two operations, and prison orders have been issued against 20 of them, the vast majority of them British citizens settled in the province of Malaga and in Gibraltar.