Law enforcement authorities in Germany and Spain, supported by Europol, have successfully broken up an international cannabis-trafficking network based in Almería, Spain.
On the afternoon of 6 February, Spanish National Police (Organised Crime and Drug Trafficking Central Unit (UDYCO)) investigators arrested five key suspects, who were caught red-handed after loading a German-registered trailer truck with 88 bundles of hashish, bound for northern Europe. The bundles of cannabis seized ranged in weight from 25–30 kgs each, totalling around 2.6 tonnes. The estimated price of the seized drugs on the illegal market is approximately 4 million euros. The drugs were concealed in a warehouse located between Murcia and Almería.
Two of those arrested are father and son of Dutch nationality, two are Spanish nationals and one an Irish citizen. An additional suspect, currently at large, escaped.
This operation saw close and intense cooperation between Europol and law enforcement units in Germany and Spain. The joint international operation has led to the disclosure of a multi-nationally structured and active organised criminal group involved in the wholesale trafficking of illegal drugs hidden in legal cargo. Evidence suggests that the road haulage companies used are directed by members of the criminal group.
The operation fits into, and is the outcome of, a much wider international law enforcement action involving two criminal investigations that have been running over recent months respectively in Germany (Driven by Germany’s LKA Hannover (State Office of Criminal Investigation) and ZFA Hannover (Department of Customs Investigation)) and Norway, (Driven by Oslo Police District with assistance from Oslo Customs Region.) with the cooperation of investigators from Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and supported by Europol.
The entire multi-agency operation was facilitated, from the very beginning, by Europol and Europol Liaison Officers from the involved countries, which ensured fast and effective cooperation and sharing of intelligence via Europol’s Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA). In addition Europol provided timely and effective operational analysis reporting, as well as providing the necessary financial support and facilities to allow law enforcement investigators to hold crucial operational meetings.