SPAIN is one of the main hubs in Europe for the import of cocaine and hashish, meaning that the country’s authorities are constantly making narcotics seizures as they bust drug gangs. But recent record policing successes have created a complicated problem: how to dispose of tons and tons of illegal substances. 

To address this, the Interior Ministry is seeking companies that can incinerate hundreds of tons of drug hauls each year, and is prepared to pay them €990 a ton for them to do so. 

That’s according to a public tender recently put out by the ministry, and to which Spanish daily El Pais has had access.

Last year the ministry destroyed 1,231 tons of drugs, according to the CITCO terrorism and organised crime intelligence unit. Of those, more than a third – 474,012 kilos – were burned in large industrial ovens. 

The seizure of large drug hauls by the Spanish authorities not only presents the problem of safe disposal, but also creates a risk during the storage of the narcotics. 

In 2012, for example, 290 kilos of cocaine were carefully targeted by criminals and stolen from a judicial storage unit in Cadiz. Since then, a protocol has been put in place to avoid the accumulation of narcotics in similar warehouses. 

Another problem, according to El Pais, is that most of the companies that currently carry out the incineration of drug hauls are located in the north of the peninsula. 

This means that narcotics seized in Andalusia – which is a hotspot for hashish trafficking – have to be transported large distances by road. This presents another security risk, given that the cargo can be targeted by criminals while in transit.

All of these issues will be alleviated if the Interior Ministry can find the right companies for its tender, which has a budget of €148,500 – enough to cover the cost of incinerating some 150 tons of drugs every year. 

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