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Spain breaks up ‘main’ hashish smuggling ring

Spanish authorities said Sunday they had broken up one of the "main" gangs that smuggles hashish from Morocco to southern Spain with the arrest of 12 people.

Spain breaks up 'main' hashish smuggling ring
The haul was found on a fishing boat in Cabo de Palo. Photo: Guardia Civil / Interior Ministry.

It is the second major bust this month of alleged drug smugglers in the southern province of Cadiz, where drug traffickers are operating in an increasingly brazen manner that has alarmed authorities.

READ MORE: Brazen drug trafficking alarms southern Spain

“We have declared war on drug traffickers and those who help them,” Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said in a Twitter post.   

In addition to the 12 arrests, police seized a submachine gun, ammunition a bulletproof vest and nearly €190,000 ($223,000) in their latest bust, he added.

The minister said the operation “has broken up one of the main criminal organisations dedicated to the introduction of hashish from Morocco to the Campo de Gibraltar”, a country in Cadiz province.

Two weeks ago police arrested 14 suspected smugglers and seized drugs and boats allegedly used to run stashes of hashish across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco.

Police announced their biggest-ever cocaine seizure in April, when they found 8.7 tonnes hidden in a container ship that arrived from Colombia in the port of Algeciras in Cadiz.

The province, which is just 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Morocco's northern coast, is the entry point for 40 percent of the drugs smuggled into Spain, according to the interior ministry.

Hundreds of people gathered in Algeciras' main square on Thursday night to protest against the increasingly violent drugs trade in the underprivileged area.

People hold a banner reading “security” as they gather at Plaza Alta de Algeciras for a demonstration against drug trafficking. Photo: AFP

DRUGS

Spanish police make ‘biggest ever haul of synthetic drugs’

Spanish police said Friday they had seized a record 827,000 ecstasy tablets as well as other narcotics in what they called "the biggest ever seizure of synthetic drugs" in Spain.

Spanish police make 'biggest ever haul of synthetic drugs'
Police claim the seizure is the biggest in Spanish history. Photo: Guardia Civil and the National Police
In a joint operation, the Guardia Civil and the National Police smashed “the main international criminal organisation behind the production and supply of most of the synthetic drugs in Spain”, they said in a joint statement.
   
Synthetic drugs are manufactured using man-made chemicals rather than natural ingredients.
   
Eleven people were arrested on charges of drug trafficking and belonging to a criminal organisation, including the organisation's Dutch boss.
 
   
As well as the ecstasy tabs, police also seized 76 kilos (167 pounds) of speed, 39.5 kilos of crystal meth and 217 litres of liquid amphetamine with which they could have produced 738.5 kilos of speed.
   
They also impounded almost 400 kilos of hashish and marijuana which they were to have exported to The Netherlands to pay for the purchase of the necessary substances to manufacture the drugs at two labs in Barcelona.
   
The organisation included traffickers from Spain, The Netherlands, Romania, Colombia and Italy and had bases in Barcelona, the southern city of Malaga and the island of Ibiza, all of which are known for having a vibrant nightlife and many dance clubs.
   
Although Spain is considered one of the main drug gateways to Europe, seizures of synthetic narcotics are uncommon as most traffickers usually deal in cannabis and cocaine.
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