A huge, combined investigation involving officers from Spain's National Police and the Guardia Civil forces has brought down what they claim was the 'most active' drug trafficking network on the Costa del Sol.
A total of 14 people have been arrested, and some 1,500 kilogrammes of cocaine along with numerous weapons – including military assault rifles – have been seized.
The investigators claim that two prominent businessmen from Marbella headed the organisation: one of them ran an equestrian club in the town and the other was a partner at a luxury restaurant in Puerto Banús. The pair were arrested in the latest raid, which took place just 10 days ago.
But the investigation began much earlier, in April of last year, when police officers stopped a van that was loaded with 80 kilogrammes of cocaine. That led them to a site where another 1,380 kilogrammes of the same substance were found. Five people were arrested.
Some weeks later, the Guardia Civil’s organised crime team discovered an arsenal of weapons, inside a vehicle belonging to the same organisation, that included two M16A1 military assault rifles, equipped with state-of-the-art aiming aids and considered a weapon of war as it is used exclusively by the military.
The investigators also located several cars that were adapted to hide drugs or weapons and the compartments could only be opened if a sequence of buttons was operated, such as the radio and the light at the same time.
During the course of the investigation, the police dismantled several smaller criminal groups that supported the organisation. Possible links were also found between this group and the one dismantled in 'Operation Alcatraz' in which a school caretaker from Marbella was arrested.
Police claim that, over the years, the group has been forging an important business network, all with the purpose of, allegedly, laundering the drug-trafficking proceeds through restaurants and the equestrian sector.
More than 350 personnel from both the National Police and the Guardia participated in the operation, carrying out a total of 18 searches, most of them in Marbella. One of the houses was configured as a 'panic house' so that when the officers entered, a sophisticated security system was activated that, automatically, closed the doors and windows.
The investigations also led to Ceuta, where a Port police officer was arrested and is being investigated. According to sources close to the investigation, he allegedly provided drug-running boats to make shipments of cocaine or hashish to the mainland.