16 Feb, 2024 @ 13:03
2 mins read

Revealed: How an Argentinian ‘cocaine kingpin’ used bars, restaurants and gyms in Marbella to ‘launder millions of euros of cartel profits’ – after importing the drugs from Ecuador

AN Argentinian impresario whose sprawling business empire in Marbella allegedly served as a giant ‘cocaine money laundromat’ has been arrested.

Over three tonnes of cocaine were also seized across several countries, the proceeds of which were reportedly funnelled into bars, shopping centres and nightclubs on the Costa del Sol.

These included a well-known leisure centre in Marbella, various bars and restaurants, and the notorious Molly West nightclub and Neptune shopping centre in Granada.

Molly West Granada has endured a chequered history in recent times, with numerous charges of racism and violence against customers being levelled at the ‘east European bouncers.’

Police raided a number of villas in Marbella, as well as night clubs, bars, leisure centres and other vanues

Some traumatised party-goers have even alleged the presence of a ‘beating room.’ 

A string of villas in Marbella were also raided by heavily-armed police which, along with sports cars and other luxury items, were valued at €48 million.

The cocaine kingpin was swept up in an enormous multinational operation involving 800 police officers that also saw 12 other arrests in Spain, 18 in Ecuador and one in the United Kingdom. 

He was the second ‘high value target’ to be taken down, after the arrest of Albanian crime lord Dritan Gjika in Ecuador, as the Olive Press reported earlier this month.

Earlier in the month, Ecuadorian police arrested the organisation’s leader in South America, Albanian national Dritan Gjika

READ MORE: PICTURED: Albanian ‘kingpin’, 48, who ‘tried to smuggle cocaine into Spain’s Costa del Sol by hiding three tonnes of…

Gjika had a contract with his Colombian partners to receive a staggering four tonnes of cocaine a month to be shipped on to various countries around the world, according to investigators. 

Between the Argentinian and the Albanian, they are thought to have orchestrated an operation that transported hundreds of tonnes of cocaine globally. 

Among his portfolio of businesses, the Argentinian controlled companies that imported bananas from Ecuador into Spain, primarily through the port of Algeciras.

Despite the trick being an old one for the world’s port inspectors, the sheer quantity of bananas that Ecuador exports each year – 354 million boxes in 2022 – makes hiding cocaine among them an evergreen strategy. 

The Argentinian also took care of laundering the proceeds from cocaine, ploughing it into a swelling empire of well-known businesses in the south of Spain.

READ MORE: WATCH: Eight TONNES of cocaine are seized at Algeciras port in southern Spain – after ruse to trick officials…

‘Straw men’ owners – sometimes known as ‘front men’ – were put in place to be the official owners of the dirty assets.

In this way they disguised their true ownership of the businesses and the legitimate profits that they produced.

The drugs they smuggled went all around the world, from the Netherlands to Belgium, Russia, Romania and Albania. 

Between 2019 and 2022, 3,210 kilograms of cocaine were seized in various countries – over a tonne in the Netherlands in 2020 – and 200 kilos in Spain. 

READ MORE: Spain’s war on drugs in numbers: How almost 20,000 people have been arrested in the Campo de Gibraltar with…

Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? [email protected]

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