Wednesday, 16 August 2023
National Police officers in Spain, in conjunction with the French National Gendarmerie, have smashed a criminal network made up of Spanish and French citizens allegedly involved with the shipment of huge quantities of drugs from the Costa del Sol to the south of France.
The joint investigation concluded with the arrest of 22 people for their alleged involvement in the crimes of belonging to a criminal organisation, drug trafficking, illegal possession of weapons, forgery of documents, vehicle theft, injuries and attacks on law enforcement officers, the National Police said in a statement.
During the police operation, some thirty searches were carried out in both countries, and 2,350 kilograms of hashish, 1.6 kilos of cocaine, six pistols with ammunition, 22 vehicles and a large amount of cash were seized. In addition, bank accounts and cryptocurrencies have been blocked.
The investigation began in January 2023 when offcers of the Drugs and Organised Crime Unit (Udyco) in Malaga became aware of several citizens from Marseille (France) in the Malaga town of Mijas who, with no apparent work or business activity, were leading an ostentatious life.
Through collaboration with the French authorities, it was established early on in the investigation that the suspects had numerous previous convictions in France for offences related to large-scale drug trafficking.
In addition, investigators observed how members of the network made frequent road trips from Malaga province to locations on the French border, with practically no rest stops, and then returned to the Costa del Sol for no apparent reason, which raised suspicions about the dubiuous nature of these road trips.
The investigation focused on the main suspects, and the officers discovered that the modus operandi of the plot was to carry out continuous road trips, using high-end off-road vehicles, of which the investigation revealed were stolen cars with fake number plates.
Members of the network travelled to areas of Catalonia close to the French border where they delivered the drugs and then returned to the province of Malaga.
Once the criminal activity of those under investigation was revealed, the facts were brought to the attention of the 4th Court of Instruction in Fuengirola and the Special Anti-Drugs Prosecutor's Office in Malaga, which took over the judicial investigation.
Similarly, in France, the case was taken over by the Marseille Court and the National Gendarmerie Corps, including the assistance of the European Agency for Criminal Judicial Cooperation (Eurojust).
The criminal organisation was led by a Marseille national based in a luxury villa in Mijas. He was the one who commanded other members of the network who initially acquired the drugs in Morocco and hid them in several houses in Benalmádena used as "nurseries".
Subsequently, they prepared the road transport to locations in the provinces of Barcelona and Gerona where other members of the team from France collected the drugs and distributed them in the south of France, using vans or lorries belonging to a goods distribution company owned by some of those under investigation.
Finally, the police authorities arrested seven people in Spain - five in Benalmádena and Marbella, and another two in Fortuna (Murcia) - as well as another 15 members in France.
During the two phases of the investigation, 30 searches were carried out - four in the province of Malaga and the rest in the south of France - as a result of which 2,350 kilograms of hashish, 1.6 kilos of cocaine, six pistols, ammunition, 22 vehicles and cash were seized. In addition, bank accounts and cryptocurrencies were blocked.
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