Spanish police seize thousands of marijuana plants destined for UK

Spain's national police have seized thousands of marijuana plants due for export to the UK and made eight arrests after raids in Barcelona and Girona.

Spanish police seize thousands of marijuana plants destined for UK
The plants seized in the raid. Photo: Policia Nacional

The bust is part of an operation against a Spanish-Chinese network dedicated to growing and exporting narcotics on a large scale, in which 41 arrests have been made and 30,351 plants seized to date, police said.

The organization's plantations were distributed across different provinces in Spain in order to make it more difficult to detect them and assure continued production in the case of one being located. The raids in Barcelona and Girona marked the closure of the final production locations.

Facilities were housed in a variety of buildings including family homes, which also doubled up as safe houses for members of the network, who changed their address every six months.

“The detainees had perfected their criminal activity to such a degree that they even lined the rooms where they cultivated the marijuana with thermal insulating material, which gave the room a complete seal, preventing them from emitting odours as well as the detection of heat sources,” the Policia Nacional said on its website.

A total of 2,477 plants, 34 kilos of seeds, 1,180 grams of buds, a vehicle and 32,300 euros in cash were seized in the Barcelona and Girona raids.

“With the eight arrests made the organization is considered to be dismantled,” the police concluded.

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Spain investigates mysterious ‘needle spiking’ attacks on women in nightclubs

Spanish police are investigating a string of cases of women being injected with possibly spiked syringes in crowded clubs, following similar incidents in Britain and France. However, no chemical trace has been found yet in the victims.

Spain investigates mysterious 'needle spiking' attacks on women in nightclubs

The worrying trend of ‘needle spiking’ (pinchazos in Spanish) in bars and nightclubs that has been seen across Europe in recent weeks has reached Spain.

The strange attacks, the first of which reportedly happened in October 2021 in the Scottish city of Dundee, can cause sudden dizziness, memory loss and then, usually the morning after, bruises caused by what experts believe are needle pricks.

In Spain, the first reports of these needle spiking attacks have been in the Basque Country, Catalonia, Andalusia, Aragon and Cantabria.

The Ertzaintza (Basque police) are investigating as many as a dozen neede spikings in bars and restaurants across the northern region in the last two weeks alone, while national police in Andalusia are investigating two women claiming to have been victims of ‘chemical submission’ due to needle spiking in a nightclub in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz.

Catalonia and the Basque Country are the regions where the largest number of cases have been reported so far, and the complaints are familiar: young women who feel a prick or sharp pain while dancing or waiting at the bar in a cramped environment, and then feel dizzy and disorientated and have a physical injection mark on their body.

Often the needle pricks are accompanied by memory loss.

Social panic

Worrying though the attacks are, it must be noted that scientists have only detected one case in Spain (in the northern region of Asturias) where the victim’s body was found to have a toxic substance present.

The victim in question was a minor, so it is unclear if they were in a bar or nightclub at the time. The 13-year-old girl reported a sharp pain in her leg, and later tested positive for liquid ecstasy after analysis at the Cabueñes Hospital.

But this seems to be the exception.

Physical needle pricks without any chemical or toxic traces have been the case in almost every other case across Europe.

By January 2022, in Britain there had already been already 1,300 complaints about needle attacks. Of these, zero cases were confirmed with chemical evidence.

In France, of 800 or so reported needle spiking cases, not a single chemical trace was found in any of the victims tests.

In the medical analysis of Spanish victims, according to police sources, no traces of toxic substances have been found besides the single case in Dijon.

Mireia Ventura, head of analysis at Energy Control, said in the Spanish press this week that “we do not deny that there are aggressions with something sharp, but this story that they [the victims] are inoculated drugs with a syringe in nightclubs sounds fanciful to us, there are several pieces that do not fit in.”

Not a single syringe has been found on any premises nor have any culprits been identified.

None of the dozens of recent victims in Spain have tested positive for toxic substances in medical tests, nor have they suffered sexual assault, harassment or theft.

As sociologist Robert Bartholomew wrote in ‘Psychology Today’, “anyone who believes she was drugged while on the go must be taken seriously and her claims thoroughly investigated. However, a recent wave of news involving syringes has all the characteristics of a social panic.”