Europol has coordinated a joint operation between the French Customs and Gendarmerie Nationale and the Spanish Customs to dismantle a criminal group involved in hashish smuggling. The gang, which was based in Gerona, Spain, was involved in smuggling large quantities of hashish from Spain to France and possibly beyond in lorries.
During a coordinated action carried out on 30 September 2017 by the French and Spanish law enforcement authorities, with the support of Europol, 4 individuals were arrested (one in Gerona, Spain and three in Lyon, France) and over 370 kilograms of hashish were seized. The Spanish Customs also seized EUR 26 000 in cash.
Based on information provided by Spain, the French law enforcement authorities stopped a lorry on the motorway near Lyon and subsequently found the hashish concealed in the vehicle. The lorry driver, a Bulgarian national, was detained on-the-spot, alongside two Moroccan nationals in a ‘scout’ car leading the convoy. The head of the criminal organisation was later arrested in Gerona.
During the initial phase of the investigation, the French authorities seized 464 kilograms of hashish (February 2017). A month later, they later seized over 1.2 tonnes of hashish in Le Boulou (France) concealed in a lorry coming from Spain. In June 2017, the Spanish Guardia Civil seized over 650 kilograms of hashish. This series of seizures led to the identification of the criminal network involved in this large-scale trafficking.
Europol has supported the investigation from the early phases by facilitating the exchange of information at the international level. During the action day on 30 September, a Europol mobile office was deployed to France. This allowed for real-time exchange of information and cross-checks of the data gathered in the course of the action against Europol’s databases.