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Gone to pot Over 100 arrested after authorities dismantle industrial cannabis operation in Spain

"The criminals were diverting the electricity supply to illegally cultivate the plants indoors"

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Cannabis plants

Cannabis plants

Cannabis plants

Over 100 people have been arrested after law authorities in Spain, Germany and Albania took down a criminal gang that had been running an industrial cannabis operation across the Spanish mainland. 

The organised criminal network composed mainly of Albanian-speaking criminals was “dismantled” with the support of Europol, the international agency said.

A total of 107 persons were arrested during an “action day” on July 13 which targeted the criminal group that is believed to have been managing cannabis plantations in Spain where they cultivated and processed the marijuana, before it was transferred to other European countries for further distribution.

“On the action day, some 400 police officers on the ground carried out simultaneous raids in 42 different locations in Spain (Tarragona, Barcelona, Girona and Castellón),” Europol said.

“An additional nine searches were carried out a few days later.”

As well as the arrests of 107 individuals arrested, including Albanian, Spanish, Slovak and Greek nationals, 51 cannabis farms were uncovered and 25,000 cannabis plants seized.

A total of €70 000 in cash and two-high end vehicles were also taken by authorities.

“This clan-based organised crime group was hierarchically structured, with branches operating internationally,” Europol added. “Some of its members arrested have a history of drug trafficking in different countries.

“The criminals were diverting the electricity supply to illegally cultivate the plants indoors. It is estimated that the stolen electricity amounts to over €1.6 million in lost utility revenue.”

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A still from video taken of the raids.

A still from video taken of the raids.

A still from video taken of the raids.

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Europol said they supported the investigation by providing “tailored expertise and extensive analysis support” while facilitating the exchange of information through its secure channels.

“On the action day, a virtual command post was set up by Europol to ensure seamless coordination between all the authorities involved.”

One of its experts was deployed on-the-spot to Spain to allow for crosschecks against Europol’s databases of the data gathered in the course of the action.

Three Albanian investigators were also deployed to Spain in the framework of the Project IPA2019 aimed at countering serious organised crime in the Western Balkans.

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