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CRIME

Spanish police believe letter bombs originated in Valladolid

The booby-trapped letters and explosive packages that have been sent to high-profile figures and key locations in Spain over the last week are thought to have been posted from Valladolid.

A Spanish policeman stands guard near the US embassy in Madrid
A Spanish policeman stands guard near the US embassy in Madrid, on December 1, 2022, after they received a letter bomb, similar to one which went off at the Ukrainian embassy. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

The six letter bombs appeared to have been posted from the northern city, a source close to the investigation told Reuters on Saturday.

However, the news agency reported that the source – who did not wish to be named – said that no-one had been identified as the sender of the packets.

On November 24th, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez received a booby-trapped letter, which was said to be similar to one which exploded Wednesday at Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid.

The envelope, “containing pyrotechnic material” and addressed to Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, arrived by regular mail on November 24th, the interior ministry said in an earlier statement.

Security staff carried out a controlled explosion of the mailed item.

On Wednesday, the security officer at Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid lightly injured his hand while opening a letter bomb addressed to the Ukrainian ambassador, prompting Kyiv to boost security at its embassies worldwide.

Spain’s High Court has opened a probe for a possible case of terrorism.

Later that evening, a second “suspicious postal shipment” was intercepted at the headquarters of military equipment firm Instalaza in the northeastern city of Zaragoza, the interior ministry said.

Experts carried out a controlled explosion of that mailed item as well.

Instalaza makes the grenade launchers that Spain donates to Ukraine.

On Thursday, security forces also detected a “suspect envelope” at an air base in Torrejón de Ardoz outside of Madrid which is regularly used to send weapons donated by Spain to Ukraine.

Police were called to the base “to secure the area and investigators are analysing this envelope” which was addressed to the base’s satellite centre, the interior ministry said.

“Both the characteristics of the envelopes and their content are similar in the four cases,” it said in a statement, adding police had informed the National Court of the four incidents.

A fifth envelope with “explosive” arrived at the defence ministry in Madrid on Thursday morning, a defence ministry source told AFP.

Experts blew up the package at the ministry, the source added.

The US Embassy in Madrid also received a letter bomb that day.

‘Terrorist methods’

Ukraine’s ambassador to Spain, Serhii Pohoreltsev, appeared to blame Russia for the letter bomb that arrived at the embassy.

“We are well aware of the terrorist methods of the aggressor country,” he said during an interview late Wednesday with Spanish public television.

“Russia’s methods and attacks require us to be ready for any kind of incident, provocation or attack,” he added.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ordered the strengthening of security at all Ukrainian embassies, the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson said Wednesday after the letter bomb went off at the embassy in Madrid.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February in what it calls a “special military operation”, which Kyiv and the West describe as an unprovoked land grab.

In addition to sending arms to help Ukraine, Spain is training Ukrainian troops as part of a European Union programme.

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CRIME

Spanish police seize 4.5 tonnes of cocaine off Canaries

Spanish police announced on Saturday the seizure of 4.5 tonnes of cocaine aboard a Togolese-flagged cargo ship from Latin America which was intercepted off the Canary Islands.

Spanish police seize 4.5 tonnes of cocaine off Canaries

The “Orion V”, which transported cattle from Latin America to the Middle East, had been under surveillance for over two years and had previously been “checked and searched, but no drugs could be found inside, despite the presence of sufficient clues”, police said.

A joint naval and air operation finally made the breakthrough locating the cocaine on Tuesday, hidden in a container used to feed the cattle.

The operation mobilised among others the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre for narcotics (MAOC-N), the Togolese authorities and the Spanish police.

The 28 crew members from nine countries were arrested.

The “Orion V” was similar to another Togolese-flagged vessel, the “Blume”, which was intercepted in mid-January in the same area south-east of the Canary Islands, on which the same amount of cocaine was found.

A total of nine tonnes of drugs have been seized in January, police said in a statement.

Spain’s proximity to North Africa, a key source of hashish, and its close ties with former colonies in Latin America, the world’s main cocaine-producing region, have made it a gateway into Europe for drugs.

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