Dismantled a criminal organization in the Balkans dedicated to the introduction of large amounts of cocaine in Europe by sea

The Spanish Civil Guard, in coordination with Europol and the police authorities of Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia and Slovenia, have dismantled a criminal group based in the Balkans dedicated to introducing large quantities of cocaine into Europe by sea. 29 people have been arrested in 37 searches in Montenegro, Italy, Serbia and Slovenia with the intervention of 6.1 tons of cocaine, thousands of euros in cash, several vehicles, boats and a weapon with ammunition.

This investigation began in 2018 thanks to the seizure by the Portuguese authorities of 840 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a boat docked on the island of Horta, Azores Islands (Portugal).

Later, in the month of December of that same year, within the framework of an operation carried out jointly by the Organic Unit of the Judicial Police of the Civil Guard Command of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Team Against Organized Crime of Alicante of the Central Operational Unit, a vessel was located on the Island of Tenerife, whose crew maintained strong ties with clans in the Balkans dedicated to international cocaine trafficking by sea.

With the progress of the investigation, said vessel was apprehended in May 2019 with 600 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside, again on the island of Horta (Azores). The two members of her crew, of Montenegrin and British origin, were arrested by the Portuguese authorities.

At the same time, as a result of the operational work carried out by the Civil Guard in Spain, it was possible to find out how the investigated criminal organization had acquired a new sailboat in the province of Alicante.

After several months of investigation, at the beginning of 2020 through international cooperation efforts carried out by the Civil Guard, the Ivorian National Navy was able to seize 411 kilograms of cocaine in a port in the Ivory Coast (Africa), arresting 7 people from Ghanaian and Montenegrin origin.

All the information obtained by the Civil Guard in these two arrests was provided to EUROPOL during the meetings held at its headquarters, which has been vital for the development of the recently concluded operation FLORIDA I, carried out by the Montenegrin Police Directorate . These authorities seized 5.1 tons of cocaine in 2020, on a cargo ship on the island of Aruba (Netherlands), arresting the 11 crew members, all of Montenegrin origin.

Operation FLORIDA I was promoted by the Montenegrin Police and coordinated by EUROPOL, and during its development an officer from the Civil Guard traveled to participate in the analysis and coordination tasks. Thanks to this, 37 searches were carried out in Montenegro, Italy, Serbia and Slovenia in which tens of thousands of euros in cash, several vehicles and boats and a weapon with ammunition were obtained.

Finally, on July 27, 2022, Operation FLORIDA I concluded with global results of 29 people arrested and 6.1 tons of cocaine apprehended, with police forces from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Portugal participating in its different phases. , Holland, Montenegro, as well as the Civil Guard.