Spain police smash drug ring, seize blow-up boats
Spanish police said Tuesday they had smashed a ring that used a fleet of inflatable motorboats to smuggle nearly three tonnes of hashish into Spain from Morocco.
The group, based in the town of Los Barrios in southwestern Andalusia, hid the boats inside homes bordering a coastal river that flows into the Atlantic, police said in a statement.
"The drugs traffickers had built ramps inside the homes equipped with automatic gates similar to those in traditional garages. They would launch the boats this way, reaching in an instant the Bay of Gibraltar and then the high seas," the statement said.
"The drugs collected by the boats was transported to different points of the Andalusian coast, where third parties would hide it and distribute it."
Police stopped four attempts by the ring to smuggle drugs into Spain in the last six months, seizing 2.85 tonnes of hashish.
They detained 19 people and charged six others as part of the operation, which involved around 100 officers and tax inspectors in its final phase.
Police also seized 29 inflatable boats with outboard motors, 22 properties worth an estimated one million euros and several vehicles as part of the investigation.
Spain's proximity to north Africa, a major source of hashish, and its close ties with its former colonies in Latin America, a key cocaine producing region, have made it a major gateway into Europe for drug traffickers.
© 2014 AFP