2 Apr, 2024 @ 12:46
2 mins read

Revealed: How Ukrainian fighter pilots were paid €150,000 per flight to carry millions of euros worth of drugs into Spain in low-flying helicopters in the dead of night

UKRAINIAN pilots who imported drugs from Morocco to Spain on helicopters have been busted by the Guardia Civil and the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie.

Almost 4 million euros worth of Hashish were found in the helicopter.
Photo: Guardia Civil

READ MORE: Family clan who ‘sold drugs delivered by narco boats’ on Spain’s Costa Blanca is arrested

Nine people have been arrested in Andalucia including two elite Ukrainian pilots who are experts in nighttime and low-altitude flights, and who were paid at least €150,000 per trip. 

Both helicopters – worth €900,000 each on the black market – have been seized along with 795 kilos of hashish.

Operation Torcal 469 Tornado began in mid-2023 after authorities discovered that the gang was looking for pilots to carry out drug flights on the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco.

After several months of investigations, Guardia officers found two helicopters hidden on farms in Sevilla and Cadiz, with the properties leased by the gang leader.

In the early hours of January 15, investigators detected a narco-flight in Cadiz province heading south from the organisation’s farm.

The craft was flying at a very low altitude and without any lights.

A Guardia Civil helicopter pursued and arrested five people including the pilot when it landed at a farm in Chiclana de Frontera.

One of the pilots has been identified as Vitor Blaha, a former Ukrainian police colonel.

Blaha is accused of piloting the helicopter,  which carried 30 bales of hashish weighing 795 kilos, worth around €4 million.

A number of navigation devices and mobile phones were also seized as well as three vehicles used by the gang.

One of the organisation’s leaders, a Morrocan man resident in Spain, crashed his car and died close to where the helicopter was seized after attempting to flee. 

READ MORE: Grandmother, 72, is arrested for ‘running a drug trafficking ring with her grandson’ in eastern Spain

In the next phase of the investigation, four addresses were raided resulting in an additional four arrests.

Reportedly, mechanics were amongst those arrested for using former Soviet Union parts to repair the helicopters. 

A second craft was impounded at a farm in the Sevilla area town of Utrera, with the craft in the process of being kitted out for narco flights.

Both choppers were bought by the gang in Eastern Europe and could each carry several passengers.

The traffickers removed the back seats to give them more capacity to store drugs with a maximum weight of close to 900 kilos.

The gang’s route flew across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco, where the drugs were loaded. 

After, the pilots would return to Spain under the cloak of darkness, travelling at no more than 30 metres above sea level, without lights or navigation systems. 

According to investigators, the helicopter was ‘virtually undetectable because it flies so low that the mountains cause the waves received by Spanish radars to be lost. Those on board are taking a great risk.”

To fly such a dangerous route, pilots like Blaha are believed to charge around  €150,000 per flight.

The sting began when Guardia Civil officers noticed a helicopter leaving an unspecified location in Cadiz. 

They coordinated with Moroccan police to track the aircraft as it returned to Spain. 

Then, a Guardia Civil officer pursued the aircraft as it returned to Spanish airspace and coordinated with ground officers to intercept the suspects upon landing. 

READ MORE: Notorious British drug trafficker Brian Charrington is arrested AGAIN in new police probe on Spain’s Costa Blanca

Yzabelle Bostyn

After spending much of her childhood in Andalucia and adulthood between Barcelona and Latin America, Yzabelle has settled in the Costa del Sol to put her NCTJ & Journalism Masters to good use. She is particularly interested in travel, vegan food and has been leading the Olive Press Nolotil campaign. Have a story? email yzabelle@theolivepress.es

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