Five people arrested in Spain and Holland linked to the seizure of more than 2,300 kilograms of cocaine in Spain

The Spanish Civil Guard, in the joint operation “Bandi-Hammer” with the National Police and Customs Surveillance, have carried out an operation directed against several members of an international criminal organization specialized in the introduction and distribution of cocaine in Europe, from South America.

In total there are five people arrested, three in Spain and two in Holland, for the alleged crimes of drug trafficking, money laundering and membership in a criminal organization.

Ports of Bilbao and Algeciras

The first of these seizures took place in the Port of Bilbao in April 2020, in which 1,100 kilograms of cocaine were seized in a maritime container from Ecuador, camouflaged inside a legal cargo of bananas.

This arrest, carried out by Customs Surveillance in the Basque Country with the collaboration of the United States Customs Services, revealed an important international criminal organization specialized in large-scale drug trafficking, which had designed a sophisticated system for the evasion of customs controls. The network had created a network of legal companies that simultaneously introduced containers with legal merchandise with others with cocaine camouflaged as legal merchandise, or even in the structure of the containers themselves.

This arrest allowed the Spanish agents to begin the operation, putting them on the trail of this important international criminal organization specialized in large-scale drug trafficking. 

Fruit import companies for the introduction of cocaine

As the months passed, it was possible to identify several fruit import companies created expressly to introduce large consignments of cocaine into Spain through maritime containers, all of them in Madrid.

A second arrest took place in September 2021, when the Customs Surveillance of the Basque Country and Andalusia, and the Special Response Group against Organized Crime of the Campo de Gibraltar of the National Police, seized 1,152 kilos of cocaine in the port of Algeciras. In turn, a third seizure of 96 kilos occurred in November 2022. All of these interventions were managed and coordinated by the same criminal organization.

Analysis of encrypted communications

All the evidence collected during the investigation was endorsed after an exhaustive analysis carried out for months by the Civil Guard UCO on state-of-the-art encrypted chat systems, which were used by this organization in its communications with the sole objective of trying to evade the police action on the drug trafficking operations carried out.

With the support of said analysis, it has been possible to fully identify those most responsible for this business network, located in different countries, who directly managed the introduction into Spain of these shipments of cocaine from their shipment at origin.

For all these reasons, at the end of last November, the final phase of this operation was carried out, carrying out a total of six home searches simultaneously; four of them between the provinces of Madrid and Alicante, and the remaining two in the Dutch capital. Five people were arrested in them, three in Spain and two in the Netherlands, all of them directly linked to the management of the cocaine consignments seized.

The detainees are charged with the alleged crimes of drug trafficking, money laundering and belonging to a criminal organization, for the introduction of a total of 2,348 kilograms of cocaine into Spain.

Arrests outside Europe

The collaboration between all police forces has been continuous and direct throughout the investigation, and has allowed the North American authorities to arrest a prominent drug trafficker of Albanian origin residing in the United States. He is accused of directing an extensive drug trafficking network that distributed cocaine in more than 15 countries, including Spain, and the possibility is being considered that he could have been planning the construction of an ‘underwater drone’ with the capacity to autonomously transport large quantities. of cocaine between South America and Europe. This investigation in the US coincides with that carried out in Spain after the cocaine intervention in the port of Bilbao mentioned above.

This investigation in the US coincides with that carried out in Spain after the cocaine intervention in the Port of Bilbao mentioned above.

The operation has been directed in our country by the Central Court of Instruction No. 2 of the National Court and has had the collaboration of the United States Customs Services, the Dutch Politei and the US anti-drug agency DEA.