Spanish police smash helicopter hashish smuggling ring

3rd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spanish police have smashed a ring that smuggled hashish from Morocco into southern Spain by helicopter, arresting five people including two Germans, the interior ministry said Thursday.

Police seized 400 kilogrammes (880 pounds) of "very pure" hashish, five luxury cars and a single-engined R44 Raven II helicopter which was suited for smuggling because it runs quietly, it said in a statement.

"The aircraft carried out its trips to and from Morocco with no flight plan or lights, creating a hazard for air traffic," the ministry said.

Police seized the helicopter loaded with the hashish shortly after it landed at an undisclosed location in the province of Cadiz in Spain and detained its two German crew members.

At the same time police detained two Spanish suspects who had used flashlights to guide the helicopter to its landing and who were waiting to take the hashish to two cars parked nearby.

Police later detained a fifth suspected member of the group, who is also Spanish, the ministry said.

Spain's proximity to north Africa, a key source of hashish, and its close ties with its former colonies in Latin America, a major cocaine producing region, have made it a major gateway into Europe for drug traffickers.

© 2011 AFP

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