9 Nov, 2022 @ 14:15
1 min read

‘World’s biggest marijuana bust’ is not what it seems, claims Spanish businessman at centre of case

Marijuana bust
A Civil Guard image of some of the drugs seized in the world's biggest ever marijuana bust.

THE Civil Guard billed it as not just the biggest marijuana bust ever seen in Spain, but also in the whole world. Operation Gardens, as the operation was dubbed, netted 32 tons of marijuana plants, as well as nearly two dozen arrests. But the businessman at the centre of the operation has another story. 

Francisco Gómez Carbo, the administrator of a company called E-Canna Farming SL, has told Spanish newspaper El Diario that the plants intercepted by the Spanish authorities last month were not illegal drugs but rather hemp to be sold to European clients for therapeutic use. 

“No judge releases a trafficker caught with 32 tons from custody,” Gómez told the newspaper about the bust. “Right now I’m still working and I have another 30 tons,” he added. 

In fact, the company’s website offers the sale of cannabidiol, or CBD – that’s one of the cannabis sativa plant’s cannabinoids. One of the others, THC, is the active ingredient that gets users high. Gómez’s plants, he said, have a negligible percentage of THC.

The firm also advertises legal advice on the production of CBD, which is in a legal limbo in Spain right now, as well as technical consultancy about the industrial growth of hemp. 

The problem that the businessman may face is that the Spanish public prosecutor specialising in narcotics considers any marijuana plant to be a drug, independently of the amount of THC it contains. 

Gómez argues that his company’s plants will test positive for THC, but that they are not psychoactive drugs – i.e. they wouldn’t get a user high. “All industrial hemp tests positive for THC because it contains it,” he told El Diario

The businessman also slammed the Civil Guard for its operation. “It was a disaster,” he said. “They said it was all drugs and they didn’t check anything.” He cited “more than 2,000 documents” that he had sent to the local Civil Guard barracks every time merchandise arrived or left his processing plant. 

He also denounced “excessive use of force” when they searched his offices.

“If they have been investigating for six months, and they know that there are two female clerks working there, why would they knock the door down, wearing balaclavas, point their guns at them and cuff their hands behind their backs?” he asked.

He also complained that the police had arrested staff from a maintenance company who share their workspace. “They took away the three people who were there, even the builder, who’s my cousin,” he complained. 

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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