FIVE British people have been arrested after being caught with three tonnes of hash on a yacht.
Four of the group were caught with bundles of the illegal substance on a vessel hired from Fuengirola Marina.
A fifth member of the group was held after police caught him driving a van packed with bags and suitcases full of 4,595 50-gram tobacco packets.
Investigators believe that the gang previously flogged drugs in Spain but that this time they intended to transport the hash to the UK.
Another member of the suspected criminal network has fled, with a search and arrest order having been issued for their capture
Two more Brits, who are believed to have organised the logistics and transport of the drugs, have also been placed under investigation.
Guardia Civil officers also seized ‘a vehicle’, €1,590 in cash and ‘a large number of mobile phones’.
Those arrested were held on alleged crimes of drug trafficking, tobacco smuggling and membership of a criminal gang.
Operation Azariel began after two people were spotted aboard a ‘semi rigid inflatable boat’ – also called a RIB and often used by drug traffickers – and seen making trips from the port in Fuengirola to the main boat.
The investigation was instigated by Fuengirola’s Court of Instruction No. 2, and involved several law enforcement units, including the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).