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Cops catch crooks who stole police coke stash

A group of jewel thieves turned drug traffickers who managed to break into a police storeroom in Malaga and steal 120 kilos of cocaine have finally been caught after 18 months on the run.

Cops catch crooks who stole police coke stash
Police investigators believe the gang may have had a man on the inside. Photo: Karen V Bryan

The robbery happened in November 2011.

The gang first drove into the storehouse and then deactivated the complex security systems, which included movement sensors and security cameras.

They spent hours in the facility and then tried to cover their traces by spraying foam all over the building before allegedly fleeing with the drugs.

Investigators had been following the group for some time because they were suspected of having carried out numerous ram-raid style jewellery heists across Spain.

The investigation team believes, however, the gang had changed their modus operandi to focus on drugs.

The criminal group has a combined total of over a hundred arrests under their belt but they’ve still managed to elude jail time for the majority of their crimes.

Using a biological test, however, investigators managed to link the police storehouse robbery with an earlier similar theft at a food warehouse in Algeciras.

That information was enough to put five of the gang members behind bars, reported news daily ABC on Friday.

Ringleader Francisco Martín Sáez, known as ‘el Niño Sáez’ (the Sáenz kid), had been laying low in Malaga with his partner Jean Joseph Younes “El Libanés” (the Lebanese) when police finally caught the pair.

Four other gang members were arrested in Madrid.

Israel Arriero Valcárcel, nicknamed ‘the Troll’, was also arrested by the Spanish Guardia Civil for using various frontmen to launder the money the gang had seized in their heists.

Arriero was set free by the judge.

Not a single gram of cocaine was found by police during the searches, an indication that the notorious gang had already managed to flog the stash off.

A dispute between two courts over which of them would take the case may have given the group time to make the drugs “disappear”, reported ABC.

Police officers found replica guns and some money but no sign of any of the jewellery the group had allegedly stolen from numerous shops across Spain.

The investigation team denies claims that the cocaine heist was ordered by a third party.

They do believe however that the group had a man on the inside who helped them carry out the robbery at the police drugs store room.

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DRUGS

Ex-footballer arrested over cocaine-laced cardboard smuggling plot in Spain

Spanish police said Wednesday that a former Real Madrid player was among those arrested when they busted a suspected international smuggling ring which infused cocaine into cardboard boxes.

Ex-footballer arrested over cocaine-laced cardboard smuggling plot in Spain
The cocaine was infused into cardboard boxes used to import pineapples and limes. Photo: Janine/Flickr

Edwin Congo and a one-time doctor to Argentine football icon Diego Maradona were arrested, along with 16 others, police said.   

The ring would conceal small amounts of cocaine — no more than 100 grammes — in the paper of each box which it then recovered “through a complex chemical process” at its labs in the Netherlands and Bulgaria, police said in a statement.   

A video released by police showed a machine crushing cardboard boxes to a pulp, which was then pressed in another container to extract the cocaine.    

Police seized one tonne of cocaine in Bulgaria in January, which the Spain-based gang is suspected to have smuggled into Europe.    

The drug was infused in over 6,600 cardboard boxes containing limes and pineapples that arrived in Greece from Colombia.

Spanish police said they were led to the ring when they started to investigate the “illegal activities” of Colombian doctor Mauricio Vergara, who owns a beauty clinic in Madrid and is famous for having helped Maradona lose weight.   

Vergara was arrested in 2002 for drug trafficking in Colombia, while Maradona has undergone rehabilitation for cocaine abuse.    

The ring is suspected of having used Vergara's clinic in Madrid as its “centre of operations,” a Spanish police source told AFP.   

Congo, who retired from football in 2009, was released after being questioned by the police.

He acknowledged having traded in emeralds with some of the other suspects but denied any wrongdoing.

“I am innocent, I have absolutely nothing to do with the sale, manufacture or anything that has to do with cocaine,” the 43-year-old Colombian told Spanish television station La Sexta on Tuesday night.

 

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