Spanish police smash drug trafficking gang, 34 held
Spanish police said Wednesday they have smashed an international drug trafficking gang in an operation in which 34 people from five countries were arrested and two tonnes of cocaine seized.
The gang was also involved in extortion, money-laundering and kidnappings, police said in a statement.
It said the operation, which began in April 2010, was carried out with the cooperation of police in Colombia, Morocco, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Britain.
Officers searched 15 premises in the eastern regions of Valencia and Alicante.
A total of 101 properties were also seized worth a total of 3.0 million euros ($4.6 million) as well as 39 vehicles.
Of the 34 people arrested, there were 27 Spaniards, four Colombians, one Italian, one Dutch citizen and one British. Two of the arrests were carried out in Morocco and the rest in Spain.
The group "was well organized and had the infrastructure necessary to bring large quantities of cocaine through various Spanish ports hidden inside containers for distribution in different parts of Spain and other European countries," it said.
"Members of the organisation also used violence, both in Spain and Colombia and other countries in the European Union against other members of the organisation, threatening to kill or kidnap them to guarantee drug trafficking operations," it said.
Spain's close ties with its former colonies in Latin America, a major cocaine producing region, as well as its proximity to north Africa, a key source of hashish, have made it a major gateway into Europe for drug traffickers.
© 2011 AFP