Sailboat with a ton of cocaine onboard seized west of La Palma
The three Croatian crew members of the boat have been arrested, and 980 packages of cocaine seized, weighing just over a ton with a street value of 65 million euros.
The initial investigation began in February, when the Central Anti-Drug Group of the UCO received various bits of information about the Croatian-flagged vessel MAJIC, which was allegedly related to large-scale international trafficking of narcotic substances.
Police collaboration confirmed that the sailing boat had left Dubroknic (Croatia), at the end of February bound for Montenegro and possibly later on to Spanish shores.
Following its progress, they first located the boat when it docked at the Port of Almería in mainland Spain, before sailing south and stopping in Lanzarote. Some time later, via information from French (DNRED), British (NCA), American (DEA), and Dutch authorities, as well as from Europol, the Guardia Civil confirmed that the boat was in waters off the Island of Barbados, and by Martinique at the beginning of April.
The MAJIC crew was subjected to several health controls and inspections in different Caribbean ports, events that, in the opinion of the investigators, deterred the members of this organization from loading any drugs aboard the boat under these circumstances, so they returned to the Canary Islands archipelago, heading again to the port of Arrecife in Lanzarote, at the beginning of June.
At this point, the three MAJIC crew members separated and went in different directions across Europe, meeting back in Lanzarote in mid-August, where they were once again monitored by UCO agents.
A few days later the MAJIC set sail with a declared destination of Brazil, but the Guardia Civil Coordination and Maritime Surveillance Centre (CECORVIMAR) verified that after leaving the Canary Islands, the vessel did not follow a course in accordance with its declared destination, instead heading south, parallel to the African coast to the Gulf of Guinea, always in international waters.
This change of course made agents suspect that a possible transfer of drugs while out at sea had occurred from an unidentified vessel, which triggered rapid and urgent intervention of the Guardia Civil Maritime Service through its oceanic vessel Río Segura, with members aboard from the Special Intervention Unit (UEI) in the event of a potential clash on the high seas.
Following all this, at dawn Wednesday, UEI agents boarded the sailboat, which was redirected to the port of Tazacorte on the west coast of La Palma.
The Guardia Civil highlights presence of members of criminal gangs in our country from Eastern European countries, such as Albania, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia, located mainly in strategic areas to carry out transoceanic navigations, such as the Canary Islands, Galicia and the southern part of the mainland.
The operation was directed by the National Court and carried out by the Central Anti-drug Group and the Canary Islands Organized Crime Team, both belonging to the Central Operational Unit (UCO), in collaboration with the UEI, the Maritime Service through its ocean vessel Río Segura and different units of the Tenerife Command.