A joint operation between Polish, Spanish and Italian law enforcement authorities, coordinated by Europol, has resulted in the arrest of 13 individuals and the seizure of over 3 tonnes of hashish. The criminal network was mainly based in Spain and is suspected of having made substantial profit by shipping narcotics from Morocco to a number of European countries and organising their further distribution.
Several action days took place during the course of the investigation which began in 2014.
Earlier this year, based on information provided by the Polish Border Guards and Central Bureau of Investigation, the Spanish Guardia Civil supervised a comprehensive international monitoring operation to follow a ship flying the Polish flag which was suspected of being used to smuggle drugs from North Africa to Spain.
In July 2016, the vessel was located in the Italian territorial waters. The Italian Guardia di Finanza and DCSA boarded and secured the vessel, escorting it to the port of Civitavecchia (Italy). 3.3 tonnes of hashish were subsequently discovered in the deck of the vessel and the 2 Polish crew members arrested.
The criminal network was run by a Polish national, who was arrested during a house search in Marbella (Spain) on 26 July 2016. House searches were also carried out simultaneously in Poland. This individual was considered to be one of the most active in the transport and distribution of hashish in Europe and was under investigation in Spain, Poland and Germany. The arrested was the leader of a criminal group particularly active in Poland in the 1990s which is suspected to have been involved in serious crimes such as murders, extortions and kidnappings.
Europol has supported the investigations from the early phases by facilitating the exchange of information and operational meetings at the international level. During the action day on 26 July, a Europol mobile office was deployed to Spain. 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.