Spain seizes 550 kilos of cocaine on sailboat

Spanish police seized over 550 kilos (1,200 pounds) of cocaine from a sailboat in the Atlantic and arrested three people, including two French crew members, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

Spain seizes 550 kilos of cocaine on sailboat
A police search of the boat found the cocaine hidden inside the walls of the cabins in the sailboat. File Photo: Wikimedia

One of the crew members tried to set fire to the boat when a Spanish navy ship with police on board neared the sailboat about 500 nautical miles from Spain’s Canary Islands, the ministry said in a statement.

“As the team of special agents approached, one of the crew members who was at the helm of the vessel tried to manipulate the motor, producing a great deal of smoke, to set fire to the sailboat and avoid the seizure of the drugs,” it said.

A police search of the boat found the cocaine hidden inside the walls of the cabins.

The authorities gave no estimate for the market value of the drugs.

SEE ALSO: Spain: leader in cocaine use and organ donations

Police arrested a third man, a Spanish national, in Marbella, an upmarket holiday resort in southern Spain, as part of the investigation which was carried out in cooperation with Britain’s National Crime Agency.

The three are suspected of belonging to a French-Spanish group which specializes in smuggling cocaine from South America to Europe.

Spain is a key entry point for drugs bound for Europe. Spanish authorities seized more than 20 tonnes of cocaine last year, which accounted for 41 percent of the total amount of cocaine seized in Europe in 2012.

OPINION: Why do Spaniards love cocaine so much?

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Spain church attack suspect to undergo psychiatric testing

The Moroccan suspect held in connection with a machete attack on two Spanish churches, killing a verger and badly injuring a priest, will undergo psychiatric testing, a court said Tuesday.

Spain church attack suspect to undergo psychiatric testing

The case is being handled by the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s top criminal court, with the judge in charge asking that “two doctors conduct a psychiatric evaluation of the suspect”.

The suspect, 25-year-old Yassine Kanjaa, was arrested at the scene after the attacks on two churches in the southern town of Algeciras last week.

The Audiencia Nacional said the psychiatric evaluation, which will be carried out by doctors from the court’s forensic department, would provide “information about the legal responsibility” of the “presumed jihadist”.

Prosecutors have opened a terror probe and, on Monday, the court remanded the suspect in custody without bail on murder and terrorism charges.

During the deadly incident on January 26th, the suspect entered San Isidro church and attacked its priest with a machete, leaving him seriously wounded before entering Nuestra Se├▒ora de La Palma.

There he attacked the verger and chased him out of the church where he killed him.

‘Targeted priests and infidels’

Court details released on Monday said the attacker had also injured three other people, including another Moroccan man whom he “considered an infidel” because he had renounced his faith.

It said Kanjaa’s actions could be “qualified as a jihadist attack directed at both priests who profess the Catholic faith, and Muslims who, according to the suspect, don’t follow the Koran”.

The court said the suspect fits the profile of a “self-indoctrinated terrorist who acts individually without direct ties to a specific terror group but operates in the name of jihadist philosophy”.

Last week, Spain’s left-wing government refused to rule out mental illness and the police have described him as “unstable”.

The court said Kanjaa became indoctrinated “rapidly” within the space of up to six weeks, citing witnesses as telling police that just before that, he “was drinking alcohol and smoking hashish”. Then he suddenly started listening “regularly to the Koran on his mobile phone”.

One of Kanjaa’s neighbours told AFP something similar on Friday, saying he had changed radically six weeks ago, growing a beard and wearing a long robe.

Officials have said Kanjaa was served with a deportation order last June but had no prior convictions and was not under surveillance.