Spanish Civil Guard, Tax Agency and National Police have seized 2,000 kilos of cocaine in the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife that was hidden in the ballast tank of a merchant ship. The characteristics of the vessel and the method of concealment have made it necessary to carry out an exhaustive inspection of the vessel for more than 15 hours to detect the drugs. The action, carried out on December 18, resulted in the seizure of drugs and the arrest of six people, of which five were crew members of the ship.
The operation began at 9 in the morning on December 18, coinciding with the arrival at the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife of the “Grande Francia” ship, flying the Italian flag. It is a 214 meter long vessel, one of the so-called ‘Ro-Ro’ vessels, which transports rolled cargo. The merchant ship came from Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and was traveling on one of the ‘hot routes’ for drug trafficking, with its next destination in the French port of Marseille.Upon the ship’s arrival in Tenerife, a joint team made up of agents from the Civil Guard and the National Police and officials from the Tax Agency, proceeded to carry out one of the so-called ‘anchoring visits’, with several relays throughout. more than 15 hours in which all the ship’s facilities were inspected.
Material for drug ‘rescue’
During the inspection, a ballast tank from the merchant ship caught the attention of the detection team. Once the tank was opened, a large number of burlap packages of those usually used by drug trafficking organizations to transport drugs were found inside. Inside the tank, a total of 69 bales were detected, yielding a total gross weight of 2,055 kilos of cocaine. Along with the drug bales, various material was found (life jackets, geolocation devices, ropes, food, fuel bottles, etc.) that, presumably, the members of the criminal organization would use at the time to remove the merchandise from the ship. .In addition to the seizure of the narcotic substance, six people were arrested: five crew members of the ship – one of Italian nationality, another Romanian, and three from the Philippines – and a Filipino citizen who was staying on the island at that time. The detainees, along with the drugs, have been placed at the disposal of the Investigative Court number 3 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The operation has been carried out within the framework of the usual exchange of information with other national and international organizations.