Spain sniffs out coke-dealing gangsters

Spanish and Swiss police said on Tuesday they had smashed a South America-linked cocaine ring, leading to 19 arrests.

Spain sniffs out coke-dealing gangsters
A total of 19 people were arrested as part of an investigation that began in November 2002. Photo: maHidoodi/Flickr

The gang moved cocaine from South America to Spain, from where it was shipped to Switzerland and Italy, Spanish and Swiss police said in separate statements.

Some 19 people were arrested as part of an investigation that began in November 2002.

Check out The Local's list of Spain's top ten weirdest drug busts.

Six of the arrests were in Spain including that of the Gambia-born alleged gang boss living in Barcelona.

Twelve arrests took place in Switzerland and one at Italy's Milan airport, they said.

Just over three kilogrammes (6.6 pounds) of cocaine was seized, police said.

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Spain seizes first underwater drug smuggling drones

Spanish police said on Monday they had seized six underwater drones capable of transporting large quantities of drugs from Morocco to Spain and broken up a gang suspected of manufacturing them.

Spain seizes first underwater drug smuggling drones

Officers seized six of the so-called “drone submarines” and arrested eight people in raids carried out in Barcelona and the southern provinces of Málaga and Cádiz, a police statement said.

Police said it was the first time they had seized such devices, which are officially known as unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).

They believe the gang made underwater drones “capable of bearing big loads” for use by other criminal organisations.

“These devices could allow drug traffickers to transport large quantities of narcotics remotely across the Strait of Gibraltar,” the statement said.

The drones had up to 12 motors each and a range of 30 kilometres (18 miles).

That is easily enough to manage an underwater crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar separating Spain from Morocco which measures just 15 kilometres (nine miles).

Three of the drones were due to be delivered to a French drug ring to “transport significant amounts of cocaine”, the statement said.

The gang also built false bottoms into vehicles to allow gangs to smuggle drugs, as well as “unmanned semi-submersible vessels” that could carry up to 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds) of product.

Their customers included criminal gangs in Denmark, France, Italy and Spain, police said.

Spain’s physical proximity to Morocco, a major hashish producer, and its close ties with former colonies in Latin America, a major cocaine producing region, have made it a key entry point for drugs bound for Europe.