Laughing gas arrests end party for British expats

Spanish police have detained three British expats for distributing nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, at a bar in the glamorous tourist resort of Marbella on the Costa del Sol.

Laughing gas arrests end party for British expats
The sale of nitrous oxide for recreational use in Spain is prohibited because of possible harmful side effects. File photo: Tony Nungaray

The manager of the bar and two female bartenders sold balloons filled with nitrous oxide, which induces euphoria and laughter when inhaled, for five euros ($6.50) a dose, Spain's interior ministry said in a statement on Monday.

“Police learned that the sale of the product was carried out openly by employees of the establishment as part of their duties under the supervision of the manager, who controlled the activity and kept the money collected from the sale of the product,” it said.

Nitrous oxide has several legitimate uses, including numbing pain during medical procedures such as dentistry, but its sale for recreational use in Spain is prohibited by law because of its possible harmful side effects.

Millions of tourists visit the Costa del Sol, famed for its beaches and nightlife, every year and hundreds of thousands of expatriates from northern Europe live on the coastal belt.

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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.