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Crime and Policing

Sophisticated synthetic drug laboratory dismantled



The Guardia Civil, within the framework of the “HEISENBERG VI-CABARNA” operation, carried out in Cantabria, the Basque Country, León, and Catalonia, has dismantled in the Catalan region of Vallés a laboratory for the production of synthetic drugs, one of the most sophisticated discovered in Spain with the capacity to produce a large amount of methamphetamine. Ten people have been arrested in the operation, four in Bizkaia, four in Barcelona and two in León.

70 kilos of crystal and powder methamphetamine, 790 litres of methamphetamine in different phases of crystallization, 60 litres of Piperonyl Methyl Ketone (PMK) and Phenyl Metal Propanone (BMK – P2P), two of the main elements for manufacturing the drug, have been seized, along with many other finished and prepared drugs.

It should be noted that the laboratory was fully operational with utensils such as test tubes, flasks, heaters, low temperature coolers, evaporators, constant speed stirrers, low temperature circulators and refrigerators.

The investigation began last year, when the agents were able to verify the existence of a person residing in Bizkaia, who habitually received quantities of drugs that were delivered to him by the transporter of another criminal organisation based in the province of Barcelona.

Continuing with the investigations, the Guardia Civil located the laboratory in which the drug was manufactured, and which was subsequently transported by a member of the organisation, nationwide. Likewise, two other members were located who were in charge of its international distribution.

The dismantled organisation had established its operations centre in the Catalan region of Vallés, both for the production and distribution of synthetic drugs. Once prepared, they distributed it throughout several Spanish provinces such as Alicante, Bizkaia, Valencia, and Andalusia, as well as several countries in the European Union.

It should be noted that one of the members of the organisation lived in an intermediate room of a house in Granollers, where the laboratory was located, which posed a potential danger to people and property due to the storage of a large quantity of these chemicals when in an urban area.

Many of these seized substances had a high degree of toxicity and were very flammable, such as methanol, which variations in humidity, pressure and thermal or mechanical changes can alter its explosive properties, which is why there was support from personnel and specialised means to safely dismantle the laboratory. To these risks must be added the environmental damage caused by the waste products generated in these laboratories, which in this case were discharged directly into the sewage network.

It has been confirmed that the laboratory could synthesize between 5 and 10 kilograms of drugs per day, which would have reached a final production of 1.5 tons of drugs.

In any case, with regard to the quantity of drugs produced, the finished product seized, the quality of the laboratory setup and the knowledge of its operator, it can be stated that we are facing one of the most complex and sophisticated of those discovered so far, as well as one of the most productive. The laboratory had powerful air extractors with carbon filters to prevent the smell from being perceived by neighbours.

The locations in which “the chemist” of the organisation, now detained, has sporadically established laboratories have been in towns such as Derio (Bizkaia), Valencia de Don Juan (León) or Granollers. This has made the investigation very complex, since the detainees took strict security measures, with continuous changes in the location of the laboratory, sometimes at distances of 600 kilometres.



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