Spain’s police bust gang that faked orca attacks to smuggle drugs

Spanish police said on Thursday they had busted a drug ring suspected of simulating sailboat accidents, including an attack by killer whales, to smuggle hashish from Morocco to Spain.

drugs orca attack spain
Sometimes referred to as killer whales, orcas are a large, highly intelligent species of dolphin that feeds on marine mammals and fish.(Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP)

The group allegedly loaded drugs onto sailboats in Morocco and once in Spanish waters “would fake a breakdown or accident and request maritime assistance to be towed to port”, police said in a statement.

In June 2021 a sailboat used by the group docked in the southern port of Barbate “after having allegedly suffered an attack by orcas while crossing the Strait of Gibraltar”, they added.

Police believe the claim was a failed attempt by the owner of the boat to “shift the focus” of investigators from the “suspicious movements” it made while at sea.

Last year, Spain temporarily ordered small boats to steer clear of a stretch of the country’s southern coast after reports of more than 50 encounters with boisterous orcas, including several in which boats had to be towed to shore.

Once in Spain, the group would take the hashish in “small quantities” to a storage room in the southern province of Cadiz, from where it was then shipped out of the country.

Police arrested two people and seized 172 kilos (380 pounds) and over €63,000 ($72,000) as part of the investigation, which began last year.

Spain’s proximity to Morocco – a major hashish producer – has made it a key entry point for drugs bound for Europe.

Sometimes referred to as killer whales, orcas are a large, highly intelligent species of dolphin that feeds on marine mammals and fish.

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Spanish police arrest one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives

Spanish police said Wednesday they had arrested one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, sought for his suspected role in the murder of a teenager.

Spanish police arrest one of Britain's most wanted fugitives

British police believe David Ungi, 30, was involved in the fatal shooting in 2015 in Liverpool of 18-year-old Vinny Waddington while he was riding a motorcycle.

Ungi, who is also wanted in connection with heroin trafficking, left Britain less than 24 hours after Waddington was killed, according to British authorities.

Two other men were convicted in 2016 of the 18-year-old’s murder.

Spanish police said in a statement Ungi was arrested along with three other British men in the town of Coin near the southern resort of Marbella on May 5 as they entered a gym at a shopping centre.

Officers seized a firearm from a rucksack being carried by one of the men, Spain’s National Police said in a statement.

A police search of Ungi’s residence in Coin turned up a machinegun and two other guns as well as “abundant ammunition”, 15 kilos (33 pounds) of cocaine and 19 kilos of hashish, the statement added.

Spanish police said the operation was carried out in cooperation with Britain’s National Crime Agency, which had put Ungi on its most wanted list.

The Spanish coast has long a popular bolthole for British criminals fleeing the law because they can blend easily into thriving expatriate communities.