ALMOST two tonnes of hashish destined for the United Kingdom have been seized in a raid on a sophisticated smuggling gang operating out of the Costa del Sol.
Police made five arrests after raiding a warehouse in Sevilla, including one individual who was wanted in Britain under an International Arrest Warrant issued for drug trafficking offences.
The gang made use of a front company they had set up to ship frozen broccoli and cauliflower to the UK, giving them the guise of legitimate businessmen.
They then used this company, with all documentation and export licences apparently in order, to provide cover for their real purpose – the wholesale introduction of huge quantities of hashish into Britain.
Police got wind of their scheme last spring and investigations led them to a property in Marbella where they were stashing drugs – mainly hashish and marijuana, as well as smaller quantities of ketamine.
Detectives from the Policia Local’s Organised Crime Group in Fuengirola quickly realised that they were dealing with a serious outfit thanks to a suite of sophisticated counter surveillance techniques they employed.
Through careful surveillance, they learned that the group used forged documents to rent properties and a small fleet of vehicles to carry out their illicit business.
After several weeks of painstaking police work, things moved up a gear in the summer as the gang’s operations took on heightened levels of activity.
Officers observed vehicles constantly coming and going from the Marbella stash house, indicating that a shipment was imminent.
Undercover cops eventually followed a pair of vans – one of which was a decoy – to a meeting point in Santiponce, Sevilla.
There, a handover took place, with the van suspected of carrying drugs driven by two different individuals to a nearby warehouse.
Not much time later, the same vehicle reappeared from the warehouse and was returned to its original owners – a great degree lighter, officers surmised.
The cops made sure to keep an eye on both vans, assuming one to be a decoy but unable to be certain which one it was.
Once the team were convinced that a large quantity of drugs had been unloaded in the Sevilla warehouse, it was decided to move in.
Armed police swooped, kicking down doors and making a number of arrests.
They uncovered 1,868 kilograms of hashish and 45 kilograms of marijuana in the warehouse, ready to be concealed in boxes of frozen broccoli and cauliflower for transport to the UK market.
Nearly half a kilo of ketamine was also recovered, along with various forms of fake identification, five vehicles, and €2,885 in cash.
But the operation, dubbed Birra, continued, with a number of the masterminds still at large.
The final phase took place last December, concluding with five arrests for drug trafficking, criminal organisation membership, and document forgery.
One of the suspects managed to fight his way out of the arrests and escape.
But not for long, was later captured according to the Policia Nacional, who added charges of assaulting an officer, traffic violations, immigration law violations, to his existing International Arrest Warrant to his record.
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