Police in Spain have busted a Europe-spanning drug trafficking gang suspected of being led by a German national.
A total of 15 people were arrested on 31 August in raids in the cities of Malaga, Seville and Cadiz, all in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, the Guardia Civil police unit said on Tuesday.
About 280 kilograms of hashish, half a ton of marijuana, 12 vehicles, three weapons, 50 cell phones and jewels worth 400,000 euros (470,000 dollars) were seized by police, along with with 68,000 euros in cash.
The months-long investigation was aided by law enforcement agencies in Germany and other European countries. The authorities did not initially give the time period over which arrests and confiscations took place.
The suspected gang leader had lived in the southern Spanish coastal town of Puerto de Santa Maria, near Cadiz, and had run the criminal organization from there with the help of his right-hand man, a Spaniard, police said.
The gang transported hashish and marijuana from Spain to Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. For the operation they used, among other things, trucks disguised as vehicles of online mail order companies.
The well-sourced online publication El Confidencial reported, citing investigative circles, that the suspected gang leader was a 37-year-old German who liked to let the engine of his luxury sports car roar loudly through the streets of chic Puerto de Santa Maria.
False bottoms in vehicles
Germany's Bild tabloid wrote that the drug ring allegedly included drivers, security personnel and growers. According to the report, false bottoms were installed in the vehicles that were made up to look like transporters belonging to Amazon and DHL.
The Cologne public prosecutor's office confirmed, in response to the Bild report, that a 37-year-old man was strongly suspected of having trafficked in marijuana and hashish as a member of a gang.
In southern Spain, between March 2020 and January 2021, he is said to have procured around 1,500 kilograms of cannabis and handed it over to a courier for onward transport to the Netherlands or Germany.
In April 2021, the man had been arrested in Spain. The investigations by the public prosecutor's office were also directed against six other suspects. Three of them are already in custody in Cologne.