POLICE have arrested 40 people for drug trafficking across Malaga, Almeria and Murcia.

A group of 14 people from the same family have been cuffed, while a ton of weed, millions of euros in cash and a gun have also been seized.

In Malaga the Guardia Civil discovered a gang shipping drugs to northern Europe, maily the Netherlands, in crates of garlic.

This revelation comes in the same week as it emerged that Dutch-linked suspected smugglers who also used garlic had been cuffed in Cordoba and Benalmadena.

In its latest bust the Guardia Civil seized €1,600,000 at a Malaga home and 700 kilos of vacuum-packed cannabis.

A spokesperson described the haul as ‘one of the biggest apprehensions of this type of drug in our country’.

CAUGHT OUT: Guardia Civil footage of its multiple drug raids

An international probe, called ‘Maskoke’, was launched in 2018 as police learnt of requests from the Netherlands for large shipments of marijuana from Andalucia.

A spokesperson said that it is ‘impossible to obtain so much quantity of the drug from a single supplier’.

A farm in Utrera, Sevilla was discovered to have been used as a storage site for the packaged drugs, concealed with garlic.

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One shipment, thought to be destined for the Netherlands, was stopped in the province of Caceres.

Its Dutch driver was held, while €5,000 in cash was seized as well as a kilo of cocaine and 24 kilos of vacuum-packed weed hidden among 13 tonnes of garlic.

The drug gang is said to have operated with a ‘hawala’ financial structure, in which large huge transactions may take place without trace.

Interpol has described this type of secretive financial structure as ‘money transfer without money movement’.

A major breakthrough in the Guardia Civil operation came as officers discovered a ‘double bottom’ lorry in Castellon packed with drugs.

The truck, which was carrying 700 kilos of cannabis and five kilos of hash, was again driven by a Dutchman.

This development allowed police to arrest 21 people across Andalucia, as well as carry out house searches in Rincon de la Victoria, Estepona, Malaga, Utrera, Sevilla and Loja.

A spokesman added: “Six members of this organisation had fled from Spain, for which European Orders of Arrest and Delivery (OEDEs) were decreed, of which two of them have been executed.”

Meanwhile, in Murcia, 14 people from the same family were arrested for crimes of ‘cultivation, processing and drug trafficking, fraud of electricity, illegal occupation of housing, serious disobedience and belonging to a criminal organization’.

‘Operation Lodon’, launched in 2019, saw searches carried out in San Javier and San Pedro del Pinatar.

Police seized 325 sativa cannabis plants, cocaine, heroin, hash, three cars, as well as laptops, other valuables and paraphernalia used in drug production and distribution.

The probe began as police came across a family outfit based in Mar Menor, which ‘controlled’ the local drug market, as well as those of neighbouring provinces.

Multiple constantly changing ‘drug outlets’ helped the gang throw police off the scent, including eight properties in San Javier and two in San Pedro del Pinatar.

Some buildings had been ‘squatted’ by those involved, a spokesperson said, adding that some members had also ‘not respected’ Spain’s coronavirus lockdown.

Police said that the mains electricity in some properties had also been ‘fraudulently’ modified, allowing the gang to use the grid for free.

Alongside hundreds of plants, police also seized lighting units and other infrastructure for cannabis-growing, as well as €2,000 in fake banknotes.

Across the region border into Almeria, the Guardia Civil arrested two people in the municipality of Berja.

One was held for an alleged crime ‘against public health’, while the other was cuffed on charges of altering the mains electricity to grow marijuana in the hamlet of Peñarrodada.

Various bits of kit and 355 plants were discovered after a Guardia Civil patrol noticed a ‘strong smell’ coming from one house.

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