Officers arrested 11 people and seized helicopters, trucks, hashish, guns and cash in synchronized raids.
High Crimes: Cops Bust Gang That Smuggled 3 Tons Of Dope In Helicopters
Spanish and French authorities have smashed a criminal gang that flew narcotics into Europe in helicopters and seized over 2.7 tons of drugs in the process.
Spain’s Civil Guard, accompanied by the French Anti-Narcotics Office (OFAST) and Europol, the European Union’s crime agency, dismantled the gang for trafficking hashish and marijuana in an operation that began in 2020, according to the Civil Guard, which reported the case in a Jan. 9 release.
In the operation named Copa Sucre, police seized over 2.6 tons of hashish and 247 pounds of marijuana and 11 French suspects were arrested. Nine other people are pending arrest in France on European arrest warrants.
The police launched the operation when they discovered that different vehicles were being used by suspected gang members, including the illegal entry of a helicopter without a flight plan from Morocco to Andalusia in southern Spain, where the drugs were allegedly received before being transported to France.
While carrying out investigations in the Spanish province of Malaga, the Civil Guard discovered one suspect was using five fake identities.
After monitoring the group, the police intercepted a truck with French registration in the southern French town of Narbonne, which was found to be transporting 923 pounds of hashish and arrested the driver.
The ongoing investigation netted even more illegal drugs. The police found 721 pounds of hashish in the Spanish town of Baza in the province of Granada.
In another raid, the police seized 1,896 pounds of hashish from a truck in the Spanish municipality of Chauchina. Officers also seized 247 pounds of marijuana in a vehicle used by the gang in the Spanish city of Portbou in the province of Girona.
A few days later, the police seized 465 pounds of hashish from a helicopter in the Spanish city of Torremolinos in the province of Malaga.
The police were involved in a dramatic car chase with one suspect in the Costa del Sol region. The chase, which involved speeds of up to 111 mph, ended when the suspect’s car was rammed and brought to a stop.
Officers seized 465 pounds of hashish in the vehicle and another 498 pounds of hashish in the house where the driver had been. The suspect was subsequently placed under arrest.
The criminal enterprise is also accused of money laundering the illicitly obtained revenue.
The authorities have so far seized three helicopters, four firearms, large quantities of ammunition, bulletproof vests and numerous electronic devices. The investigation is ongoing.
Edited by Fern Siegel and Kristen Butler