Customs officers have seized 4.5 tonnes of cocaine being trafficked on a cattle ship carrying livestock from Colombia to the Canary Islands.
Dramatic footage of the raid – carried out off the coast off the coast of Gran Canaria on 24th January – shows black-clad police boarding the huge ship.
As they search the decks, officers find bundles of cocaine hidden among the cattle in their enclosures.
The freighter is impounded and ordered to sail to nearby Las Palmas port on Grand Canaria.
Dockside tests established the bundles contained cocaine, police said later.
Twenty-eight crew members were arrested from the Togolese flagged Orion V which had been sailing to the Middle East.
Spanish customs officials – helped by America’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) – raided the ship after noticing its similarity to another drugs ship seized just days ago.
Both sailed from Colombia under Togolese flags listed as carrying cattle.
Newsflash obtained a statement from the Spanish National Police dated 28th January saying: “A freighter with 4,500 kilogrammes of cocaine from Colombia was intercepted to the west of the Canary Islands.”
They added: “The 28 crew members of the freighter, of nine different nationalities, have been arrested.
“Ten Tanzanian citizens, five Syrians, four Kenyans, two Ecuadorians, two Panamanians, two Colombians, one Dominican, one Nepali and one Nicaraguan.”
They went on: “The American DEA, the Atlantic Analysis and Operations Center (MAOC-N) and the Intelligence Center Against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO), as well as the Togolese authorities, collaborated in the operation.
“The investigation began as a result of the investigations carried out jointly by the National Police and the Customs Surveillance Service, which determined the possible involvement of a vessel suspected of illicit drug trafficking from South America.”
The authorities said that they had been monitoring the vessel since 2020 as they suspected that it was involved in trafficking large amounts of drugs.
They explained: “There were sufficient indications that confirmed that it was a boat that transported drugs with the excuse of transporting cattle – to countries like Libya, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Curacao, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Macao, Kuwait and Qatar.”
The Spanish authorities said that the “interception of the ‘Orion V’ was carried out just six days after the one carried out on 18th January, when the freighter ‘Blume’ was intercepted, with very similar characteristics – both about 100 metres long – and with 4,500 kilogrammes of cocaine on board.
“The two operations carried out on the freighters have allowed the interception of nine tonnes of drugs in a short period of time.”