Authorities in Spain seized 144 kilos of amphetamines from a transnational criminal group seeking to exploit established cocaine trafficking routes, highlighting the expansion of criminal organizations into new drug markets.
Spanish police arrested eight Colombians and three Europeans in an operation that resulted in the seizure of the amphetamine known as "speed," reported 20 Minutos. According to a police press release, the drug had been transported from Holland in liquid form in the gas tank of a car.
As part of the operation, police dismantled a laboratory and storage facility in the province of Guadalajara, where they discovered 120 kilos of speed. Spanish authorities searched a total of seven properties throughout the country that were allegedly used by the organization.
A Colombian national living in Valencia was identified as the head of the criminal group, which sought to use its established cocaine trafficking routes to expand into Europe's amphetamine market, according to the police press release.
According to EFE, the seizure is the largest of its kind in the European Union so far this year and the largest ever reported in Spain.
InSight Crime Analysis
The arrest of eight Colombians during the operation points to possible ties to Colombian drug trafficking groups. Several Colombian criminal organizations are known to have "oficinas de cobro" -- criminal structures used to carry out kidnappings, debt collecting and money laundering -- in Spain, and there are indications that Colombia's most powerful criminal group, the Urabeños, is expanding its presence in the country.
A Spanish police source told InSight Crime that several Colombian "oficinas de cobro" involved in the cocaine trade and microtrafficking in Spain have links to Holland. Earlier this year, Colombian authorities seized a 7 ton cocaine shipment in the port city of Cartagena, on a vessel headed to the Netherlands.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of European Organized Crime
The case of the recently dismantled speed trafficking group highlights the diversification of revenue streams as organizations utilize their existing trafficking routes to expand into other drug markets. This phenomenon was highlighted in a recent report (pdf) by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), which states that criminal groups formerly dedicated to trafficking a single type of drug are now using the same routes to transport other illegal substances.