By Jon Clarke and Anthony Piovesan
She was the Rolls Royce of cocaine smuggling since the 1990s and looked every inch the part in her €700 blouses and €1,000 high heels.
But finally the Queen of Cocaine’s 25-year reign has hit a bump in the road, which police expect will write off her crime career for good.
Dubbed the ‘Reina de Cocaine’, the Olive Press can today reveal her identity as Maria Teresa Jaimes Caicedo, a glamorous Marbella expat, who lived a life of luxury in a giant mansion with two swimming pools, a tennis court and ‘a garden that resembles the rainforest’.
Now under arrest and awaiting trial, she has been fingered as the ringleader of a gang of 16, behind a European-wide cocaine smuggling operation.
Speaking exclusively to the Olive Press, a lead investigator revealed how she had managed to ‘live the high life’ for nearly three decades, while quietly pulling the strings behind one of Spain’s biggest drug smuggling operations.
Describing her as ‘a real black widow’ – who has already seen two previous husbands put behind bars for smuggling – the undercover officer added it was ‘remarkable’ she had somehow flown under the radar.
The policeman from Greco, part of the National Police’s Udyco organised crime and drug unit, revealed how his colleagues were ‘amazed’ when they started investigating her opulent life.
“From the street her house didn’t look anything special, but when we entered it was like a city, with interlinking paths and numerous outbuildings where all her family lived,” he told the Olive Press.
“I’ve seen many homes of criminals, but this was something else. Some 3,000-metres squared in size and with a garden like the selva with a tennis court and two pools.”
He continued: “She was supporting around 10 people, including her mum and four children and she had a daily fitness trainer and also went to crossfit classes.
“If she needed a plane ticket, someone got it. A hotel, it was always five stars, a restaurant, always the best. A boat, her friends had them. The cars, always changing, but nothing too flash. Think BMW or Audi.”
He continued that the €3m villa in central Marbella was ‘like a fortress’ with numerous CCTV cameras, high walls and incredible security.
“She actually slept in her own panic room bedroom, which was only reached via a false door from a library.”
He added it could only be accessed by pushing a button that, like a Hollywood movie, opened to a staircase up to Maria Teresa’s suite.
The suite itself featured an elevated marble jacuzzi, supported by marble columns, while a giant mirror was placed on the ceiling above the bed.
Inside a giant walk-in wardrobe amid racks of Prada shoes, Dsquared2 jackets and Gucci bags was a packet of cocaine that gave everything away.
Adorned with, appropriately, a Rolls Royce logo – the kilo of cocaine had clearly been used to show off the quality her family in Colombia could supply.
“A corner was missing that had clearly been syphoned off for potential clients and friends to try,” explained the Greco operative. “It was a big mistake for her.”
While she claimed to work as a ‘commercial mediator’ and regularly travelled between Madrid and Barcelona, as well as Colombia, police began to probe her after a tip off two years ago.
Called Operation Dryad (after the nymphs in Greek mythology, who lived supernaturally long lives and were tied to their homes) the probe found her to be the ‘brains’ behind a big Polish/Danish gang, which smuggled drugs around Europe.
So far police have arrested 16 people in Marbella, Alhaurin and Fuengirola, as well as Murcia, Barcelona and Alicante. The majority are Polish and Danish expats, as well as Colombians and a few Spanish.
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