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Spain says 35 arrested in international drugs bust

Published on March 13, 2015

Spanish authorities said Friday they had busted an international drug-smuggling racket based in northern Spain in a joint operation that netted 35 arrests across Europe and Latin America.

With its leaders in the northwestern port city of A Coruna, the gang was “specialised in bringing cocaine from Latin America into Europe in shipping containers and on commercial flights”, the interior ministry said in a statement.

It said “35 members of an international drug-smuggling organisation” were arrested in an investigation carried out over several months in Spain, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ecuador and Peru.

Among those detained were two members of the Peruvian national police suspected of giving cocaine to a “mule” or carrier to take to Spain.

The others included a Portuguese and an Ecuadorian who were caught in Peru and Ecuador with cocaine in their luggage.

Police also seized 315 kilograms (nearly 700 pounds) of cocaine hidden in a container of fruit at the Belgian port of Antwerp. They arrested 10 people in that raid.

The investigation culminated last month with the seizure in Spain of ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine and hashish, and 17 arrests, the statement said.

Spain is one of the main points of entry for drugs into Europe, with many flights landing from Latin America and boats arriving from Morocco on its southern shores.