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Spanish police seize massive cocaine haul in banana cargo

Spanish police said Thursday they had seized over six tonnes of cocaine hidden in a shipment of bananas and arrested 16 suspects, some of them wanted in the Netherlands.

Spanish police seize massive cocaine haul in banana cargo
Photo: scornejor/Depositphotos

The police raid in the southern port of Malaga also netted cash, weapons and luxury vehicles.

The operation broke up a trafficking ring made up of well-known Dutch criminals based on Spain's Costa del Sol, police said in a statement. They had specialised in smuggling cocaine into Spain and the Netherlands.

“Some were considered priority targets by police in the Netherlands,” the statement added.

READ MORE: Brazen drug trafficking alarms southern Spain

The cocaine was hidden in a banana shipment that arrived by boat in neighbouring Portugal and was then transported by truck to Malaga in southern Spain.

Police said the gang used a company that imported fruit from Costa Rica as a cover for its operations.

Officers seized 300,000 euros ($343,000) as part of the operation along with four guns and several luxury vehicles.   

Fifteen people were arrested in Malaga and one in Badajoz in the eastern region of Extremadura on the border with Portugal.   

The operation was carried out in collaboration with the anti-drugs arm of Portugal's police and with the United States' Homeland Security Investigations unit, the statement added.

Spain, with its historic and linguistic links to South America, is the main entry point to Europe for cocaine from the continent, mostly from Colombia.   

Smugglers often resort to creative methods to get drugs past Spanish customs.

In recent years, police have found cocaine inside breast implants, hollowed-out pineapples, a wig, a wheelchair cushion, a plaster cast encasing a man's broken leg as well as inside a 42-piece crockery set.

READ MORE: Spanish narco arrested after cameo in reggaeton music video

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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