Drug smugglers took two years to plan cocaine operation from Brazil to Spain
Police from Estonia, Portugal and the Netherlands teamed up with officials from Spain to investigate a drug-smuggling operation which led to the arrest of five suspects.
The gang tried to introduce more than half a ton of cocaine and other narcotic substances into Spain from Brazil through hidden compartments in a pleasure craft identified as IMAGINE owned by a Dutch company registered in the name of one of the members.
The activities were first detected in Barcelona and later during the year 2018 in the cities of Valencia, Huelva, Granada and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria where different meetings took place between members of the criminal organisation. They had international connections with other countries such as the Netherlands, Estonia, Brazil, United Kingdom and Portugal.
In May 2018, the criminal organisation, from the port of Valencia in Spain, made various administrative and technical procedures for the implementation of the IMAGINE vessel and its provisioning, prior to starting a navigation that had as its itinerary Valencia and Las Palmas in Gran Canaria (Spain), Fortaleza, Natal, Salvador de Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and Itajaí (Brazil) and back to the Azores Islands (Portugal), where it was intervened by the police authorities of Portugal at the request of Spain and the Netherlands.
“Spain turned out to be an ideal territory from which to carry out transport activities and use as a gateway to Europe for the narcotic substances although it was in the Netherlands where its members resided and cooled the operation until the right moment was found, which required almost two years,” said a police spokesman.
As security measures, it is known that the organisation had security telephones used exclusively for its criminal activities, a fact that greatly hindered both the police work and its follow-up through the countries to which they travelled to advance the opera-tion. Likewise, innumerable displacements were detected by land, sea and air, always using different airports and ports at their origin and destination, always travelling separately to avoid being related, and continuously and suddenly modifying the routes declared to the maritime authorities of the countries under whose jurisdiction the vessel sailed, trying at all times to interpose elements of distraction.
Those arrested included an Estonian, a Brit and two Dutchmen. Seven properties were searched, the boat was intervened and electronic and digital evidence seized, together with half a ton of cocaine, 520 gr of crystal meths, a 9mm firearm with the serial number erased, cash and nautical material (do-cuments, nautical charts, GPS and satellite phones).