Several firearms were seized by the police. / SUR

Removal company used as a front for major European drug-trafficking gang in Spain

More than 70 arrests have been made, and raids carried out at office premises on the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca

FERNANDO TORRES / ÁLVARO FRÍAS

Police in Spain and Sweden have collaborated to smash a major European drug-trafficking network that allegdly used a furniture removal company, with offices in Malaga and Alicante, as a front for its operation. One was in Torrevieja and the other in San Pedro Alcántara, Marbella.

From the outside everything seemed normal: but inside the lorries investigators found hashish, marijuana, opiates and other illegal substances were also being moved to northern Europe.

Spain's Guardia Civil, National Police and Swedish authorities have carried out a joint operation and 71 arrests have been made. The investigation was supported by a team from Europol and Eurojust.

In one of the searches police found firearms, including a Kalashnikov AK-47 submachine gun, which it is alleged the organisation used in violent incidents with rival gangs on Spanish and Swedish soil. One of the arrested gang members has a police record for two attempted murder charges following a shooting where several people were injured.

As a result of these searches, two people, the legal owners of the company, were arrested in Sweden. In Spain, twelve properties in the provinces of Alicante, Ávila, Granada and Málaga were also raided. Two people were arrested in San Pedro Alcántara when they were preparing 265 kilogrammes of hashish for shipment

In Madrid, a man listed by Europol as a 'high-value suspect', was arrested. He has been detained for his alleged involvement in crimes of conspiracy to murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion.

Police believe the hashish was smuggled to Spain from Morocco using a novel method suspending the drugs under the hulls of recreational boats, before being dropped at sea, and recovered by other members of the network.