Drug trafficking organisation dismantled in Barcelona with 34 arrested

by Lorraine Williamson
drug trafficking Barcelona

BARCELONA – Guardia Civil have arrested 34 people in Barcelona and seized 12.6 tons of marijuana as part drug trafficking operation Pinarel. Also, 160,000 marijuana plants, half a ton of hashish, more than a kilo of cocaine and €45,000 in cash have been seized.

Although the criminal organisation was based in Barcelona, it had logistical and production branches throughout the country.

Operation Pinarel began over 2 years ago, in the summer of 2020. At this time, the police obtained information about a criminal organisation based in the Catalan province that was transporting drugs throughout Spain.

Transporting the drugs

In August 2020, two vehicles from Malaga with 185 kilos of hashish were intercepted in Vilafranca del Penedés. According to police reports, the transport was carried out using the “go fast” methodology. This is when a high-capacity vehicle is sent first as a shuttle to verify that the route is clear of police presence. In theory, the second vehicle, which is loaded with drugs should then reach its destination without police intervention.

Just a month prior to this, the Ceuta Command seized around 330 kilos of hashish camouflaged in a garbage truck. The agents were able to determine they were part of the organisation under investigation in Barcelona.

Then, in November 2020 several searches were carried out at the homes of some of the most active members of the organisation. These took place in the Barcelona towns of Rubí and Vilafranca del Penedés. A month later, this resulted in an intervention in the port of Barcelona of 80 kilos of processed marijuana camouflaged inside illicit merchandise on pallets destined for Cyprus.

Property structure modified

As a result of those actions, in February 2021 an important operation was carried out where 16 properties were simultaneously registered in three blocks of flats in the Pinar de Rubí neighbourhood. Once inside the properties, the police realised the structure had been modified to install indoor marijuana plantations. The criminals had also completely manipulated the electrical installation of the buildings. On this occasion, 1,350 plants, a compressed air pistol, a taser pistol, a katana and several machetes were seized.

Meanwhile, in Montcada i Reixac, another branch of the organisation in charge of both wholesale distribution by postal parcel and small-scale distribution through retail in the province was being dismantled.

International deliveries

It was discovered that within the organisation, there were Swiss nationals of Turkish origin. They had been organising massive international shipments of marijuana to Switzerland. However, to give the appearance of legality to the transport, they used documents based on false analysis of the transported hemp, eluding an eventual seizure of the substance by the Security Forces and Bodies.

Cogesa Expats

Drugs bound for Switzerland

This activity was verified shortly after when the Guardia Civil shopped a truck by in the province of Albacete. That vehicle, which was bound for Switzerland, contained four tons of processed marijuana ready for sale and consumption. In the same way, another six tons of marijuana and 120,000 plants were seized in a farm in Almería. This was also linked to the same organisation being investigated in Barcelona.

Thanks to the analysis of the information obtained in several operations carried out throughout the national territory, in September 2021 another operation was carried out in the Granada town of Motril. This time, 31,000 more plants were intervened.

Not for research or medical purposes

With the progress of the investigation and in collaboration with the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS), it was possible to connect the criminal organisation to three businesses. These were companies that had administrative authorisation limited to the sale of cannabis of a certain variety and percentage of THC (active ingredient of the plant) intended for research and medical purposes.

These companies were established in Castalla (Alicante), Tuéjar (Valencia) and Sant Quirze del Vallès (Barcelona). After registering its headquarters, 12,000 marijuana plants and 2.5 tons of processed marijuana were seized. It was verified that they diverted the legal use of cannabis to the illicit market. They did this with different varieties and much higher levels of THC than those allowed.

Operation Pinarel – 34 people arrested

In the Pinarel operation carried out by the Organic Unit of the Judicial Police of the Civil Guard of Barcelona in collaboration with the Commanders of Ceuta, Alicante, Valencia, Albacete and the AEMPS, 34 people have been arrested and 17 investigated for the crimes of drug trafficking, belonging to a criminal organization, illegal possession of weapons, electricity fraud and money laundering.

In total, the following has been seized;

  • 14 marijuana plantations have been dismantled
  • 160,000 marijuana plants have been intervened
  • 12.6 tons of processed marijuana, half a ton of hashish
  • 1.3 kilograms of cocaine
  • 3.2 kilos of cutting substances
  • €45,000 in cash
  • a submachine gun
  • a rifle
  • 2 compressed air pistols
  • a taser pistol
  • a multitude of weapons

The operation has been directed by the Court of Instruction No. 2 of Sagunto (Valencia).

Also read: 49 arrested in drug trafficking investigation

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