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MAFIA

Spanish police strike blow to Camorra mafia crime network

Spanish police said Tuesday they had broken up a violent branch of Italy's Camorra crime group which they believe stole hashish from rival drug traffickers in Spain and then transported it to Rome in motorhomes.

Spanish police strike blow to Camorra mafia crime network
An officer discovers a hidden chamber in the vehicle. Photo: Guardia Civil

The authorities arrested 14 people in the operation, which had “completely broken up” a branch of the Camorra's “Marranella” clan which operated on Spain's southern Costa del Sol, a police statement said. Another seven people are under investigation, it added.

Police said the group obtained most of the hashish which it then sold on the streets of Rome through violent thefts from other drug traffickers in Spain. 

The group also bought hashish in Spain with the aid “of a group of British citizens” based in the southern province of Cadiz.   

“To carry out these thefts, members of this organisation used extreme violence, not hesitating to use firearms to kidnap other area drug traffickers,” the statement said.

The drugs “were transported to Rome by road, hidden inside rented motorhomes, with the trip carried out usually by a man and a woman hired by the organisation, to appear as if they were a couple on vacation and not raise suspicions during any police controls.”

The organisation was led by a father and his two sons who belonged to the Camorra's “Marranella” clan.

The 14 suspects who were arrested include British, Italian, Spanish, Romanian and Dominican nationals. Some were wanted fugitives in their home countries.   

The authorities seized half a tonne of hashish in Spain, Italy and France as part of the operation, which was carried out in cooperation with Italian police.

The Camorra, which is based in the Naples area, is one of Italy's three main organised crime groups, along with Sicily's Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the mafia, and the 'Ndrangheta, centred in the Calabria region.

Camorra bosses refer to Spain's Mediterranean coast as “Costa Nostra”, or “Our Coast”, alluding to the “Cosa Nostra”, according to Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, a specialist on the Naples criminal underworld.

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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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