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From Luxury Yachts to Cocaine Labs: Inside Spain’s Major Drug Operation

– Spanish Civil Guard busts major cocaine lab near Madrid.
– 20 arrests and seizure of €13M in assets, in DEA and Europol joint operation.



From Luxury Yachts to Cocaine Labs: Inside Spain's Major Drug Operation

The Spanish Civil Guard, in collaboration with Europol and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), has dismantled a major cocaine processing laboratory located in the suburbs of Madrid. The operation, conducted on April 30, led to the arrest of 20 individuals, including several high-value targets with histories of involvement in drug trafficking.

The laboratory, capable of producing an estimated 100 kilograms of cocaine each month, was a critical component of a broader criminal network. Authorities discovered 21 drums containing a mix of liquid and solid chemicals essential for extracting and processing cocaine.

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In a series of coordinated raids across 27 properties in the provinces of Pontevedra, A Coruña, and Madrid, law enforcement also seized EUR 3 million in cash. An additional EUR 10 million worth of assets were confiscated, including luxury homes, vehicles, and recreational vessels, showcasing the extensive wealth accumulated by the network.

Of those arrested, 19 are Spanish nationals and one is Colombian. Investigations revealed that the group had been importing tonnes of cocaine and coca leaves from South America, utilizing recreational vessels such as sailboats and catamarans. The recruits for these operations were typically young men with maritime experience and clean criminal records, strategically chosen to evade law enforcement detection.

20 Arrested in Major DEA and Europol-Backed Drug Raid in Spain

20 Arrested in Major DEA and Europol-Backed Drug Raid in Spain

The smuggled cocaine was initially brought to various entry points along the Galician coast before being transported to other parts of Spain and into other EU Member States. The organization ingeniously used vehicles equipped with sophisticated hidden compartments to move the drugs across borders undetected.

The seized drugs from the lab and during the raids included 50 kg of cocaine, 1 kg of heroin, 1.7 kg of hashish, 1 kg of Tusi (a cocaine and MDMA mixture), 10 kg of marijuana, 750 g of MDMA, 10,000 ecstasy pills, and 700 grams of amphetamine, highlighting the large scale of the operation.

Europol has been instrumental in developing actionable intelligence on this Spanish criminal organization’s international activities. A specialist from Europol was deployed to Spain on the action day to assist in the rapid analysis of new data, ensuring effective progress in the ongoing investigation.

This operation underscores a troubling new trend in drug trafficking: moving unprocessed narcotics to clandestine labs in destination countries for chemical processing. This strategy is adopted by criminal networks to minimize losses in case of police interceptions.

The dismantling of this lab not only represents a significant blow to drug trafficking networks operating within and beyond Spain but also highlights the critical role of international cooperation in combating such sophisticated and expansive criminal activities.


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