Biggest seizure of Hashish smuggled by sea ever made by Spain
The National Police and the Tax Agency have carried out a joint operation, and have seized the largest amount of hashish to date, being smugled into Spain by sea. Over five days they have apprehended four sailing boats belonging to the same organization, carrying more than 30 tons of hashish and have arrested nine members of the group, of Bulgarian and Russian nationality. Two of these boats were found off the coast of Fuerteventura, one close to Gibraltar and another off the coast of Mauritania.
The operation, called 'Goleta-Gratil', was carried out between September 24th and 28th in three different areas of the Atlantic Ocean, and included four patrol boats, a helicopter, a Customs Surveillance plane, and the Spanish navy.
The investigation began in October 2019, when investigators from the National Police and the Regional Area of Customs Surveillance in Andalusia detected a suspected drug trafficking vessel, the 'Amaalta', and began an investigation on this and other vessels in the Balearic Islands. During this, they detected more suspicious boats owned by the same organization ('Phase One', 'Hanna', 'Sweet Breeze', 'Eagle Ray' and Carla), all of them high-end sailboats.
The first raid was carried out during the State of Alarm, on March 26th, when the 'Paíño' Customs Surveillance patrol boat, based in Mallorca, stopped the sailboat 'Phase One' 80 miles south of Mallorca, with 4,200 kilos of hashish onboard. Apprehending the boat was difficult dues to the sea conditions, and the crew tried to set it on fire fire to avoid being caught. Two Bulgarian nationals were arrested in the operation.
Next, on July 14th, the second sting against the organization took place, through the intervention of the 'Hanna', which is 14.5 meters long and has a UK flag, in the Gulf of Cádiz with 360 kilos of hashish onboard.
The investigation team finally got intelligence that the other four boats that were being observed, were to set sail simultaneously: the 'Sweet Breeze', the 'Eagle Ray', 'Amaalta' and 'Carla'.
The call was made to intercept each one with assistance from the Spanish Navy, which ended in them successfully apprehending all four, which constitutes a important milestone in the fight against drug trafficking.
The 'Sweet Breeze' was approached by the Customs Surveillance patrol vessel 'Sacre', based in Las Palmas, on September 24th, southeast of Fuerteventura and in international waters, with 10,700 kilos of hashish onboard.
The 'Eagle Ray', was intercepted by the Customs Surveillance patrol vessel 'Águila II', based in Algeciras, on September 24th, in international waters near the Straits of Gibraltar with 9,300 kilos of hashish onboard.
The 'Amaalta', of German flag and 17.2 meters in length, is approached on September 26 by a crew of Customs Surveillance embarked on the Maritime Action Vessel (BAM) 'Meteoro' of the Spanish Navy in front of the Mauritanian coasts, in international waters, with an estimated quantity of 4,500 kilos of hashish. Due to poor weather, the Amaalta was damaged and sank when it arrived in port.
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Finally, the Carla, was approached on September 28th in waters southeast of Fuerteventura by the Customs Surveillance patrol boat 'Sacre', based in Las Palmas, with an estimated 6,000 kilos of hashish onboard.
The seized vessels, along with the drugs and the detainees, have been turned over to the competent judicial authorities.
These police actions represent a great blow, to what investigators consider the largest criminal organization dedicated to the trafficking of hashish by sea, made up of criminals from Eastern European countries, the operation as a whole and including the previous apprehensions in spring, has culminated in seizing more than 34 tons of hashish, as well as six sailboats valued at more than 5 million euros.