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Spain’s most notorious drug trafficker ‘El Matador’ arrested in police operation

The operation led to the seizure an arsenal of weapons of such unprecedented proportions in Europe that police sources told El País were not seen “even during the IRA period’

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

The notorious drug trafficker known as ‘El Matador’ who has been on Spain’s wanted list for over 10 years, has been nailed in a massive police operation that also led to the seizure of unprecedented amount of cocaine and weapons.

Carlos García Morales (46) was arrested after the year-long operation that resulted in the destruction of the “dangerous” network that had been established with the aim of “introducing a significant amount of cocaine into Spain”.

The operation also led to arrests of 19 people, and the seizure of 2,600 kilograms of cocaine and an arsenal of weapons of such unprecedented proportions in Europe that police sources told El País were not seen “even during the IRA period”.

Of the drugs seized, around 2,000kg were intercepted in international waters in the Caribbean while being transported by boat from South America for distribution in Spanish territory.

The remaining 600 kilograms were hidden in an industrial warehouse in Siero, in the province of Asturias.

Detainees included Spanish, Mexican, Venezuelan, Colombian and Brazilian nationals . According to the investigargors, Morales played a key role in the drug trafficking network.

He was responsible for receiving and storing drugs and weapons while guaranteeing the transport of weapons to Latin American countries through a wide network of contacts provided by Colombian organised crime gang members based on Spanish territory.

This is not the first time that Garcia Morales has faced justice as he was arrested in 2011 after he was caught in an operation combatting drug trafficking in Spain in 2009, and sentenced to ten years in prison in Colombia.

He served eight years and after being released, is said to have immediately returned to his criminal activities.

According to police, the weapons seized are of European origin and in perfect condition. Among the weapons found were Browning and Beretta pistols, rifles such as the Russian Kalashnikov, rocket launchers, grenades and other explosives and various ammunition.

Authorities believe there is a link between drug and weapons trafficking networks, and an increase in trafficking in these types of weapons and the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

"It is more and more common to find weapons in operations against drug trafficking networks, which shows that they are two markets that work in parallel and that now, with the war in Europe, it is possible that they are feeding each other,” police sources told local media.

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