HomeNewsBriefSpain Anti-Drug Op Reveals Cross Continental Cocaine Network
BRIEF

Spain Anti-Drug Op Reveals Cross Continental Cocaine Network

COLOMBIA / 3 DEC 2013 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Authorities in Spain have charged 167 people from 15 countries for their alleged roles in a drug trafficking network, offering insight into the high levels of sophistication and transnational reach of criminal groups moving drugs from South America to Europe.

In one of the largest anti-narcotics operations Spain has even seen, the Spanish Civil Guard arrested 43 people and charged 124 more that are still at large. Among them were 88 Colombians, 36 Spaniards, 20 Ecuadoreans, nine Dominicans, and others from across Latin America and as far afield as Morocco, Russia, and the United States. According to the Spanish Civil Guard, the network's leaders were predominantly based in Colombia, but also in Venezuela, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador.

During raids that were the culmination of a yearlong investigation, police also seized more than 62 kilos of cocaine, thousands of Euros in cash and bearer bonds, over a million US dollars in forged notes, weapons and false IDs.

The ring sourced drugs from South America, then imported them into Spain using a variety of methods, including drug "mules," shipping containers, hidden on airplanes and via postal systems. For air shipments they relied on corrupt contacts at the Madrid airport, who removed shipments before they passed through customs. The cocaine was then sent out in specially adapted vehicles, which distributed the drugs around Spain or to other European countries.

The gang also employed a complex system of financial operations to launder money and send it to South America. These predominantly involved the use of money transfer companies and Colombian citizens, who were often unaware their identities were being used. The network also frequently paid for drug shipments using fake US dollars, said the Civil Guard.

InSight Crime Analysis

Spain is renowned as one of the main portals for cocaine entering Europe from Latin America, and Colombian drug traffickers are believed to be the main players overseeing these routes.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of European Organized Crime

However, the sheer scale of the Spanish operation to dismantle this network offers an unusual opportunity to see the multiple layers, complex operations, and vast network of international contacts required to move drugs across continents.

It is highly unlikely the 163 people implicated in the case belonged to one hierarchical operation. Instead, it seems a core group of predominantly Colombian traffickers were coordinating operations using an array of drug producers, smugglers, distributors and money launderers to weave a cross continental web connecting every stage of the drug trafficking chain.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 8 JAN 2015

While the official number of homicides hasn't yet been released by authorities, the statistics available thus far indicate that conflict-ridden…

COLOMBIA / 29 AUG 2011

Shop owners, bus drivers and street vendors all have to make weekly extortion payments to the many gangs in Medellin,…

COLOMBIA / 27 MAR 2019

Indigenous people at the Colombia-Ecuador border are reporting an increase in threats, extortions and restrictions to their access, as criminal…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…