Rather than busting drugs brought to the shores of Spain’s crooked Costa del Sol, from South America, Spanish police have this time uncovered a massive haul of drugs headed the opposite way.
Policia Nacional on Sunday intercepted a yacht bound for Argentina that was carrying enough MDMA to make more than one million ecstasy pills.
Authorities believe smugglers are using the reverse route to open up lucrative new markets in countries where ecstasy was less common and prices were very high.
Policia Nacional said the seizure represented the first known case of MDMA being transported on the route from Europe to Argentina.
Five people were arrested and 56kg of MDMA seized following the three-month operation.
Policia Nacional officers first learned in October that criminal gangs on the Costa del Sol were planning to ship the huge quantity of the drug to South America.
Police in Argentina then informed them that an Argentinian citizen had left Brazil and arrived in Spain to take charge of the boat that would be used to smuggle the drugs.
The gang used a boat which had been abandoned after it was last used to bring 1,500kg of cocaine to Spain in 2020.
“The arrested men remodelled both the inside and the outside of the boat as part of heavy security measures to ensure that it wouldn’t be linked to the previous police operation,” Policía Nacional said.
“As well as avoiding contact with third parties, never leaving the boat unoccupied and loading the vessel with tools and material at ungodly hours, they organised some of their most suspicious movements to coincide with Spain’s World Cup matches in Qatar.”
At the end of November, the name of the boat was changed and two of the suspects set out for Argentina from Cádiz, only to have to put into port at Tarifa on the southernmost tip of the Iberian peninsula after the vessel broke down.
When the repairs had been completed, they left port once again, planning to resupply in the Canary Islands.
It was here where the boat was intercepted by customs patrol as it left Tarifa.
“After a search lasting several hours, investigators discovered a secret compartment made from aluminium that had been constructed under the kitchen fittings,” Policia Nacional said.
“Once the compartment had been opened, they found 28 packets containing 56kg of MDMA that had been neatly sealed and covered in diesel to mask the smell.”
After arresting three other members of the alleged gang in Marbella, police determined they had been trying to smuggle the drug to Argentina to manufacture between 800,000 and 1.2m pills, depending on purity.