Tenerife and Gran Canaria at centre of massive four million euro drug trafficking network
Police in the Canary Islands say they have finally dismantled one of the largest drug trafficking networks in the archipelago.
As a result of two years of investigation, 58 people of different nationalities have been arrested and real estate and assets worth nearly four million euros blocked or impounded.
Another 1.4 million euros in cash was also seized, together with 600 kilograms of cocaine, 2,800 kilograms of hashish, five boats and 32 high-end vehicles.
The operation was carried out by officers of the National Police, the Civil Guard and officials of the Tax Agency, along with the British National Crime Agency.
The investigation began in early May 2016 after the authorities detected an introduction route for large quantities of narcotic substances on Tenerife from Gran Canaria.
“The investigations carried out indicated a criminal organisation, fully structured and settled in different parts of the archipelago, presumably dedicated to the introduction and distribution mainly of cocaine and hashish, as well as to money laundering,” said a police spokesman.
“During more than two years of research, it was possible to identify the structure of the organisation, characterized by being a pyramid, and whose peak would be located in the downtown area and in the La Isleta district of the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It also clarified the identity and functions of its members, as well as the different and varied routes used for the introduction of illegal substances in the Canary archipelago. All this allowed to uncover the complex and sophisticated network of money laundering, with which they tried to introduce the benefits obtained with these criminal activities in the legal market.”
One of the ways of getting the drugs smuggled in was to hide them in the contents of legal containers awaiting shipment from South America via boat over the Atlantic.
“These containers were deposited in transit in the Port of La Luz and Las Palmas, where several workers of the terminal were responsible for their extraction and subsequent transfer to different security points,” said the police.
“Once the drug was recovered, the container was again sealed and relocated to continue its journey, managing to avoid any suspicion. During the investigation, several of these containers were intercepted and a total of almost 600 kilograms of cocaine seized.”
For the transport and introduction of the hashish, the organisation took advantage of the coverage given by certain fishing boats in their daily tasks. The boats would usually travel out to the middle of the sea to meet semi-rigid boats from Morocco.
Once the transfer was carried out, the fishing boat returned to the port, where it remained docked to the right time to download safely. Fifteen people were arrested in specific relation to this part of the drug smuggling.
The whole investigation involved 25 raids when firearms and ammunition were also found.