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The drug traffickers with armed bodyguards who closed deals in a Costa del Sol restaurant
Crime

The drug traffickers with armed bodyguards who closed deals in a Costa del Sol restaurant

The gang is allegedly linked to the shipment of more than a tonne of cannabis to Germany and the seizure of 382,000 euros in France

Irene Quirante

Friday, 3 May 2024, 18:13

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National Police, in a joint operation with the French and German authorities, have broken up a gang of drug traffickers who supplied large quantities of hashish to Germany.

The organisation was based in Marbella, where they had become strong among criminal gangs. According to the investigations, the two ringleaders - German nationals of Iranian and Moroccan origin - had armed bodyguards on a permanent basis, because they knew that they could be attacked or robbed by other drug dealers at any time. The deals with other traffickers were closed in the restaurant in Puerto Banús the pair ran.

According to the police, they are linked to the shipment of more than one tonne of cannabis to Germany and to the seizure of 320,000 euros in France. A total of eight people have been arrested, including the owners of the restaurant.

The investigation started in December 2022, after three people of Colombian and Albanian origin were discovered with 382,000 euros in cash hidden in a vehicle passing through the French town of Dax. The three were arrested and are currently in custody awaiting trial in France.

The investigations carried out by the French authorities revealed that the seized money was destined for the leaders of a criminal organisation, allegedly dedicated to international drug trafficking and based in Marbella. They also had connections with Germany, the destination for the drugs transported by road from Spain. This led to the setting up of a joint investigation team between Spain, France and Germany.

The leaders of the gang reportedly ran a restaurant in Puerto Banús, where they closed deals with other drug traffickers. Investigators found that they had permanent bodyguards - armed Colombian nationals - whose mission was specifically to provide them with security against the danger of other criminal organisations attacking them or trying to steal their merchandise.

Following the investigations, several seizures of narcotic substances were made last summer, which, according to the investigation, apparently came from the province of Cadiz. Specifically, in June 2023, 140 kilos of hashish were seized in three confiscated shipments, sent from a company in Jerez de la Frontera to another company in Germany. On the other hand, 450 kilos of hashish were seized - hidden in boxes of lemons - in a lorry stopped in Germany, having travelled from Murcia. Finally, another 400 kilos of the same drug were found in the warehouse where the lorry was going to unload the goods.

Following the seizures, and by means of several European Investigation Orders (EIO) issued by Germany requesting different measures, surveillance of the suspects was intensified in Malaga - Puerto Banús, San Pedro Alcántara and Estepona - and in Cadiz - Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Jerez de la Frontera. As a result, the officers detected the organisation's base of operations, which turned out to be the restaurant in Puerto Banús run by its leaders, and a yacht moored in Marbella, where the suspects held discreet meetings with other drug traffickers.

According to the National Police, the investigation has also revealed the organisation's links with prominent members of the biker gang Hells Angels MC - both German and Spanish chapters - as well as with citizens of Albanian and Bulgarian origin, all of whom have a history of drug trafficking.

Heated' vehicles

The modus operandi used by the organisation to transport the drugs to Germany allegedly consisted of hiding the narcotics in secret boxes in vehicles and lorries. Furthermore, in order to avoid being discovered, those investigated changed the location of the places where they kept the drugs between Marbella (Malaga), Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cadiz) and Utrera (Seville).

At the end of April, the operation was carried out simultaneously in Spain and Germany. As a result, eight people have been arrested in Spain - two of them in Marbella, five in Estepona and one in the province of Seville - and two in Germany, in addition to the three arrested in France in December 2022 and a fourth person in Germany in October 2023.

Likewise, 28 searches have been carried out (ten in Spain and 18 in Germany), with National Police officers travelling to Wisbaden and German investigators to Malaga. As a result, more than 180,000 euros in cash, seven firearms, ammunition of various calibres, and 30 kilos of marijuana, among other items have been seized.

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