An international trafficking gang that sent cannabis to the UK using courier services and vacuum-sealed packaging has been busted in Spain.
The organisation is also alleged to have engaged in human trafficking after a Vietnamese person was briefly detained before being released because investigators found that they had been coerced into tending the cannabis plantation.
Some of the drugs found in the international police bust were seized in the United Kingdom, the authorities said.
The Spanish Civil Guard issued a statement in which they said that they arrested 15 people suspected of belonging to a criminal organisation.
They said that the suspects have been charged with belonging to a criminal organisation, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, document forgery, money laundering, and fraud, among other charges.
The police conducted seven raids in Spain alone and seized over 6,600 cannabis plants. They said that they had seized over 47 kilogrammes of dried cannabis buds, and nearly EUR 10,000 (GBP 8,392) in cash, as well cash in other currencies and as seven luxury vehicles.
The Vietnamese person, who has not been named, was in a “deplorable hygienic sanitary condition”, according to the cops, who said that they had been made to look after some of the cannabis plantations.
The police said that the criminal network was engaged in trafficking “large quantities of cannabis sativa buds to European countries” and that the organisation was the subject of so much demand for its services that the criminals opened up a special branch in a house in the city of Seville that served as a packaging and distribution centre from where the drugs were shipped abroad.
The police said that some of the drugs were being sent to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. It is currently unclear if the international criminal organisation was only sending drugs or if they were engaged in human trafficking to other countries as well.
The police said that they arrested three suspects in the town of Roquetas de Mar, which is located in the province of Almeria in south-eastern Spain, when they tried to send several packets of cannabis to other countries using a transport company.
It was following these arrests that the civil guard said it was able to dismantle the rest of the organisation.
The authorities, in consultation with a Spanish electricity company, which has not been named, established that electricity had also been stolen in order to run the cannabis plantations. They said that the criminals stole over EUR 50,000 (GBP 42,000) worth of electricity from the grid.
The investigation is ongoing.