Large scale drug operation using fuel tankers is uncovered in the Canary Islands

Large scale drug operation using fuel tankers is uncovered in the Canary Islands

The Guardia Civil has uncovered an experienced criminal group, whose six members have been arrested and charged with crimes against public health, for large-scale drug trafficking; and belonging to a criminal organization. As a result of an investigation called operation 'Aristarco', they found the group using a new route to smuggle drugs into Spain via the Canary Islands.

The investigation began in August, when the Murcia police found out that a known local criminal, had bought an old fuel tanker trailer, leading them to be suspicious of its use due to his criminal history.

They then found out that he had also rented a cab, with the financing from a merchant in Alicante, and that the lorry was travelling back and forth to the Canary Islands without any obvious commercial reason.

Continued surveillance of this vehicle took investigators to the municipality of Motril in Granada, where they discovered it was being loaded with a token amount of sugar cane molasses, the type used as organic fertilizer, and then continued on its route to the islands.

In view of its imminent departure, agents from the Murcia and Las Palmas Guardia Civil, coordinated teams to carry out the surveillance and further investigation of the truck's movements since its arrival at the port.

Carrying out the journey by sea with a stop at Lanzarote, the truck reached Fuerteventura where several individuals were waiting for it, one of whom was recognized by the agents as another known criminal from Las Torres de Cotillas in Murcia, who specialized in the manufacture of false bottoms in all types of vehicles to hide shipments of narcotic substances.

Further investigation into this suspect, revealed that he had set up a fruit and vegetable import/export company as a ‘front’ to provide legal coverage for shipments to the island.

After several hours of interviews with his island colleagues, the driver, supposedly instructed by them, drove to a ravine where he dumped the molasses and then went to an industrial warehouse located in Antigua.

The next day, the truck began its route to leave the islands, covered by a supposed legal consignment chartered by the fruit and veg company, while the agents followed in its footsteps.

Intercepted when trying to leave Fuerteventura:
The interception and examination of the truck resulted in agents finding 1,600 kilos of hashish from North Africa hidden under a sophisticated large-capacity false bottom in the tanker.

Subsequently, searches were carried out in the municipalities of Antigua on the island of Fuerteventura, Las Torres de Cotillas in Murcia, and in the municipalities of Orihuela and El Pilar de la Horadada in Alicante, where a large amount of documentation and materials related to the crimes being investigated was seized.

According to the investigation report, the criminal organization was led by two businessmen from the Alicante transport sector, who had the collaboration of two experienced drug traffickers from Murcia. Taking advantage of its geographical proximity, they created a way to ship drugs from Morocco to the mainland, making a quick stopover in the Canary Islands.

With the arrest of its six members, five of whom are Spanish and one Albanian, the Guardia Civil is confident that this criminal organization is dismantled. The detainees, the drugs, the lorry, and the rest of the seized effects, have all been made available to the Court of Instruction number 2 of Molina de Segura in Murcia, where they will face trial.