GALICIA – The Policia Nacional seizes 2,300 kilograms of cocaine from a fishing vessel off the coast of Vigo in collaboration with the DEA (the United States Druge Enforcement Administration). Five individuals linked to the Balkan Cartel arrested – four crew members and the cargo recipient.
In a joint operation with the DEA, the Policia Nacional have confiscated 2,300 kilograms of cocaine. This was following the interception of a fishing vessel off the coast of Vigo. Arrests were made, including the four crew members of the vessel. A fifth individual believed to be responsible for receiving the illicit cargo for onward transportation to local vessels in the area was also arrested.
The investigation began upon learning of the presence of several individuals associated with the Balkan Cartel. Their intention was to use Spain as a gateway for narcotics entry, destined for distribution across Europe. After extensive inquiries, it was confirmed they had organised the transportation of a significant quantity of drugs from Latin America. They did this by using large tonnage vessels, typically container ships. The drugs were then transferred, with the aid of smaller vessels, departing from local ports to evade detection.
The collaborative efforts of the Policia Nacional and the DEA of the United States allowed for the identification of those allegedly responsible for receiving the illicit substances. Additionally, intelligence indicated that a new shipment might be approaching the Spanish coast. In cooperation with the Galician Regional Government (Xunta de Galicia), an operational maritime task force was established off the coast of Vigo.
Fishing Vessel Intercepted by GEO
On September 11, GEO agents (The Grupo Especial de Operaciones – Special Operations Group) identified a potential target approximately 40 nautical miles off the coast of Vigo and attempted to halt the vessel. Despite repeated warnings, the fishing vessel, based in Ferrol, failed to stop, prompting authorities to carry out an interception. It was subsequently confirmed that the vessel was transporting a substantial quantity of drugs on board.
During a security inspection of the vessel, agents discovered numerous bundles on the deck, heavily weighted and secured together. This indicated the drugs must have been collected from a larger tonnage vessel. As a result, the four crew members were arrested, and the fishing vessel was escorted to the port of Vigo.
Subsequently, one of the individuals responsible for receiving and transporting the drugs to a secure location was identified. Upon losing contact with the fishing vessel, they fled from Galicia to Madrid. However, the individual was eventually located and arrested in a hotel in the capital.
Following these developments, the Central Instruction Court Number Three of the National Court authorised searches of the fishing vessel and two residences in A Coruña, all under the guidance of the Special Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office. Agents successfully seized nearly €200,000 in cash and a high-end vehicle during these operations.
Also read: Spain´s Balkan Cartel drugs bust