Spanish authorities have managed to unravel a drug gang that smuggled large quantities of cocaine from Colombia to Europe via Spanish ports and airports, the Civil Guard said Thursday.
The case started back in March when the Spanish Civil Guard and the National Tax Agency seized 121 kilogrammes (266.7 lbs) of high-purity cocaine from Colombia that was hidden in industrial equipment at the Port of Barcelona in the Spanish region of Catalonia.
Video footage from March, which was only just released by Spanish police this week, shows officers prying open steel girders with cutting tools to find cocaine hidden inside. During the bust, Spanish authorities arrested four people of three different nationalities, Spanish, Colombian and Ecuadorian.
This initial discovery prompted Spanish authorities to set up a joint task force consisting of officers from four different law enforcement agencies to broaden the scope of the investigation. After months of intense investigation, the task force has now managed to fully dismantle the highly organised drugs operation and bring charges against the gangs members for procurement and trafficking of drugs, the Civil Guard said.
During the investigation, the authorities learned that the gang was also sending cocaine to Barcelona via Bilbao by plane.
The Civil Guard told Real Press in a statement: “In April, a suspected gang member, of Ecuadorian nationality and living in Santander, was arrested in the city for the crimes of drug trafficking and belonging to a criminal organisation whose role was to receive shipments and hide the drugs.”
In April during the COVID-19 lockdown, the police arrested two Colombian men for transporting drugs from Barcelona to Villanueva de la Canada in the Community of Madrid.
The police discovered that the two suspects were renting a home that had been specially soundproofed and adapted for them to remove the drugs from the industrial equipment without drawing attention to their alleged activities.
The Spanish authorities have reportedly seized more cocaine than any other European country. Since 1987, interceptions have risen by over 5,000 percent.
In 2017, the country confiscated almost 50 tonnes of the drug.
In terms of cocaine use, Spain was ranked lowest in Europe in 1990, but now leads along with the UK.
Until recently, Spain was the main point where cocaine entered Europe from overseas, however the Iberian country has since been displaced by Belgium and the Netherlands.
According to a European Union report, Antwerp has become the main point of entry for cocaine into Europe, displacing Spain from the first place.
According to the same report, Europeans spend about 9.1 billion EUR (8.1 billion GBP) on the purchase of cocaine every year.