Spanish police have seized 827,000 ecstasy tablets, 76kg of speed, 39.5kg of crystal meth and 217 litres of liquid amphetamine in the country’s largest confiscation of synthetic drugs.
Eleven people – from Spain, the Netherlands, Romania, Colombia and Italy – were arrested during a joint investigation by the Guardia Civil and national police forces, according to a statement. It said specialist officers had come under fire from a member of the gang while raiding one of their properties.
The gang – described as “the most important criminal organisation dedicated to the manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs in the history of Spanish drug trafficking” – funded its operations by smuggling huge quantities of hashish and marijuana to the UK and the Netherlands.
The smugglers hid the hashish and marijuana in three-phase electrical transformers that were shipped abroad with classic cars. Once the transformers arrived in the Netherlands, the hashish and marijuana were removed and replaced with synthetic drugs for the return journey.
“The next phase, once the synthetic drugs arrived in Spain, was processing,” said the statement. “The gang used ‘cooks’ – experts in making speed, methamphetamine or MDMA – working in two laboratories that the criminals had set up in Barcelona.”The drugs were then distributed across Spain using hire cars and vehicles with hidden compartments.
The police operation, which lasted nearly a year, resulted in the second-largest ecstasy seizure in Europe over the past 20 years.
“It’s also worth noting that of all the substances seized, the 217 litres of liquid amphetamine would – had it been processed in the organisation’s Barcelona laboratories – have produced 738kg of speed, making it the biggest ever amphetamine seizure in Spain,” the statement said.
Officers, who searched addresses in Barcelona, Seville, Ibiza and Málaga, also confiscated 2,000 doses of LSD, 310kg of hashish, 89kg of pre-packaged marijuana, two pistols, a pair of mortar shells, a machete, nine vehicles and €267,000.
The 11 people arrested are facing charges including drug trafficking, belonging to a criminal organisation and illegally possessing weapons. Eight of them are on remand.
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