Europol has supported the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and the Portuguese Judicial Police (Policia Judiciaria) in a hit against suspected members of a notorious criminal gang known to be involved in drug trafficking in the Galicia region of Spain since the 1980s. This international investigation was also supported by Eurojust. The action day on 18 December 2023 resulted in the arrests of 9 Spanish nationals, 12 house searches in Spain and 1 in Portugal. The arrested individuals are suspected of being involved in drug trafficking operations in the Spanish cities of Pontevedra, Ourense, A Coruña and the Portuguese city of Monção. During earlier actions for this operation, law enforcement authorities seized more than two tonnes of cocaine and various documents, which served as evidence in the investigation.
Drug trafficking operations on the high seas
The investigation was initiated in February 2023, when law enforcement authorities gathered evidence of drug trafficking by known local narcotics clans along the Portuguese coast. The drug trafficking operations were carried out by retrieving cocaine shipments in the waters of the Atlantic. Portuguese authorities seized one such shipment of cocaine in Peniche (Portugal). The information gathered by law enforcement authorities indicated that the notorious Galician narcotics clan was deploying significant resources in terms of personnel, land and maritime equipment in Portugal to retrieve shipments of drugs on the high seas and then transport them to the Spanish region of Galicia. Investigative units thwarted this plan, seizing a large part of the cargo on the Portuguese coast and in a stranded speedboat. This law enforcement action came just as the Galician clan intended to retrieve the merchandise from the beach. Later, in April 2023, law enforcement officers seized another 220 kg of cocaine in the Salnés region of Pontevedra, Spain. The investigative leads revealed that the drug shipments were destined for a notorious criminal gang originating from the Western Balkans region.
Eurojust set up a joint investigation team to facilitate judicial cooperation between Spain and Portugal
Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided continuous analytical support to the investigation. Europol also contributed to the overall coordination of the case between the various agencies. During the action day, Europol deployed an expert to the field in Spain to cross-check operational information in real time and provide leads to investigators in the field.