GUARDIA CIVIL DISMANTLES AN ORGANISED CRIME GROUP INVOLVED IN THE CULTIVATION, PROCESSING AND TRAFFICKING OF MARIJUANA
In the operation, supported by Europol and the Croatian National Police, the Spanish Guardia Civil arrested 10 people and carried out 5 houses searches. Four marijuana plantations were dismantled alongside 900 plants and EUR 8 000 euros in cash and a vehicle were seized.
The involved organised crime group was of Croatian origin and was well organised, with a history of drug trafficking and specialised in this type of indoor marijuana plantations. They were operating in Spain and cultivated, harvested and processed the marijuana before it was transferred to northern European countries for further sale and distribution.
The investigations have been supported by Europol and the Drug Division of the Criminal Police Directorate of the Croatian National Police. A Europol officer with a mobile office was deployed on the spot during the operation.
The arrested members of the organised crime group are of Croatian, Swiss, Bosnian and Spanish citizenship. The house searches were carried out in the province of Barcelona, where the organisation had well-equipped facilities for the indoor cultivation of marijuana. Investigations began in November 2016, as a result of the international collaboration between the Croatian and Spanish police authorities.
The operation, led by the investigating judge from Manresa (Barcelona), was carried out by the Organized Crime Team of the Central Operative Unit of the Spanish Guardia Civil with headquarters in Alicante.
In a separate case, the Guardia Civil has seized 500 kilos of cocaine transferred from Brazil and hidden between sacks of industrial abrasive for an Alava company. The drug was hidden in plastic packages next to the declared legal cargo, without the exporting company and the importer of the shipment being aware of the illicit merchandise that accompanied it.
This method of concealment, known as “lost hook”, is used in a “usual” way by large criminal organizations, who take advantage of legal orders to hide their merchandise in the same containers, as explained on Monday in a press conference.
Trafficking networks use international transport routes to move the drug around the world. They access the original container at a port in South America or Central America and wait for it to be disembarked at the destination port. Then they take advantage of an oversight in the surveillance to remove the narcotics before the merchandise reaches the recipient company of the legally transported product, which does not know that it has been used for criminal purposes.
In this case, the cocaine was intercepted by the Guardia Civil inside the trailer that moved it from the port of Bilbao to the industrial estate of Júndiz in Vitoria. The operation, called Esmeril, was carried out last Friday, with no arrests being made because no one came to remove the drug from the truck, parked at the premises of the company.