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Irish among 43 arrested as Spanish cops blow open major drug trafficking operation

Police seized more than half a million euros belonging to the network, and over 100 kilos of drugs

One of the properties raided by police

Neil Fetherstnhaugh

A major '24-hour' drug trafficking operation involving 43 people from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Spain, Morocco and Peru has been blown apart in a major police operation across the south of Spain.

The National Police mobilised 250 agents from various units to carry out the operation that was carried out on May 17 and was coordinated from the ground and air.

Kilos of cocaine, speed, ecstasy and especially marijuana were stored in the more than 30 addresses in Vega Baja, Murcia and Almería that were linked to the international crime gang.

Police moved in as the drugs were being prepared for distribution to the United Kingdom and other countries in northern and eastern Europe through "mules" .

The main target the massive operation was a Briton who ran the network from a villa in Torrevieja where he resides.

Police carried out the raids in a one-day operation

Nearly 30 detainees spent last week in court in Torrevieja where 24 of them were imprisoned, while the rest have been released.

Police seized more than half a million euros belonging to the network, between cash and bank accounts, 100 kilos of marijuana, two kilograms of hashish, 500 grams of cocaine and almost a kilogram of methamphetamine.

They also dismantled eleven "indoor" crop operations in which 200 lamps, 150 transformers, 67 fans, 37 filters and 67 fans were seized.

The investigators also took into possession three short firearms, two of them with the serial numbers erased, several compressed air pistols and other simulated weapons, as well as a shotgun.

Weapons were also seized

According to police, the leaders of the organisation had established a drug-criminal network so extensive that in order to fulfil the demand for drug orders they had to "devise a rotating shift work system”.

This enabled them to continue to cultivate, store and prepare drugs for international distribution in the United Kingdom and other countries in northern and eastern Europe around the clock.

It was discovered that 11 marijuana plantations that were later dismantled had been cultivated in such a way that they had a harvest to meet the demand of buyers throughout the year.

The gang had recruited citizens of the United Kingdom as "mules" to cross the border with suitcases full of vacuum-packed drugs.

However, it was reported that the quick intervention of agents prevented two drug shipments of 30 kilos of marijuana from flying to Britain on two occasions.

One of the suspects arrested by police

The main suspect in charge of the organisation resided in a chalet in Torrevieja, from where he directed the international business.

For the assault operation on this property, police deployed the Special Security Operational Group (GOES) with air support from a drone of the Air Media Unit.

In addition to the drugs and other items seized, a total of 26 vehicles related to the criminal network were also impounded during the operation.

The 43 people who have been arrested have been accused, depending on the degree of participation of each one, of drug trafficking, illegal possession of weapons, electric power fraud, belonging to an illegal organisation and money laundering.

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