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One of the marijuana greenhouses raided by police CNP

Drug-trafficking network busted as 29 people held in raids on seven production centres in south of Spain

In a parallel investigation, 21 motor vehicles, 16 properties and 40 bank accounts linked to the alleged ringleaders were seized

Eugenio Cabezas

AXARQUÍA

Thursday, 9 February 2023, 14:55

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Spain's National Police force has arrested 29 people for their alleged involvment in a criminal network responsible for drug trafficking and money laundering, supposedly headed by three businessmen from the Axarquía. Officers dismantled seven marijuana production centres and seized 7,000 cannabis plants during raids in Vélez-Málaga, Algarrobo, Arenas, Almogía and Villanueva de la Concepción.

As a result of the searches in various farms and buildings in Malaga province, 120 kilos of cannabis buds, 17 kilos of hashish, seven firearms, some 92,645 euros in cash and five vehicles were seized. In a parallel investigation, 21 motor vehicles, 16 properties and 40 bank accounts linked to the suspects were seized, a National Police statement reported on Thursday.

The operation, carried out by agents attached to the National Police's drugs and organised crime unit (UDYCO), in Malaga and Vélez-Málaga, as well as by the force's asset investigation and location unit, began in the middle of 2022, based on information that pointed to the existence of a marijuana cultivation centre in Almogía.

Three businessmen

The first phase was to dismantle a greenhouse in Almogía where 1,400 marijuana plants, 13 kilos of buds, and two firearms were found. As the criminal network began to fall, piece by piece, police detected other production centres in Vélez-Málaga, Algarrobo, Arenas and Villanueva de la Concepción.

At the top of the criminal gang were three businessmen based in the Axarquía, who headed a large group of workers, all with vital roles in the drug operation. The gang comprised of day labourers dedicated to the cultivation, harvesters, guards and people dedicated to the specific task of money laundering.

Duriong the course of the investigations, the National Police intercepted a shipment with 500 grammes of marijuana destined for Germany that was going to be made through a parcel company. In the second phase of the operation, with 17 searches carried out in different homes, rural properties and a hotel establishment, mostly in the Axarquía region, 20 people were arrested for allegedly belonging to a criminal organisation involved in drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal possession of weapons, and electricity fraud.

At the same time, a parallel money laundering investigation was carried out. Exposing numerous money laundering operations, many of them were run through one particular restaurant located on the Axarquía coast.

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