The Spanish authorities have smashed a criminal group that ran the country’s largest operation for creating secret storage compartments in vehicles to transport drugs across Europe.
Agents from the Organised Crime and Anti-Drug Team of the Spanish Civil Guard made the drug bust at an automobile repair shop in the city and municipality of Avila in the Spanish autonomous community of Castile and Leon.
The operation, which was dubbed ‘caletas’, lasted over a year and culminated in the arrest of 26 suspects, according to an official report on 11th March.
The hidden storage compartments used to transport drugs are locally known as ‘caletas’.
The suspects have been charged with belonging to a criminal organisation, drug trafficking, money laundering, and crimes against employee rights.
They were found to be staying in Spain illegally and were predominantly of Colombian origin.
The report said the group ran the largest operation dedicated to making false bottoms or other sophisticated hidden storage compartments in vehicles of varying types and sizes.
They were allegedly hired by drug-trafficking groups which stretched across Spain and into other countries such as France, Belgium, Germany, and Italy.
The police said the group was also based in the municipalities of Piedralaves and Casavieja in Avila Province.
The video shows agents searching the garage and revealing some of the hidden compartments before going on to show some of the suspects being identified and detained.
Officers found 16 luxury passenger cars, two vans, three tractor units, six semi-trailers, and two motorcycles during the raid.
However, the report said the garage created ‘caletas’ for around 90 vehicles, some of which were found transporting drugs but were seized in previous operations.
The police said the suspects “mounted a solid assembly line infrastructure” and even had expensive equipment, tools, tow-trucks, compressors, and replacement pieces.
The group also illegally hired professional electricians, welders, forgers, and panellists, and had enough resources to work on as many as 10 vehicles at a given time.
The report said: “Depending on its characteristics, each vehicle had a type of specific ‘caleta’ adapted to its model.
“Some of them were of a sophistication rarely seen before with hidden openings, some mechanical, and others combined with electronics or hydraulics.”
It is unclear when the suspects are expected to stand trial.