In the operation named “Kaltegarria,” the Guardia Civil has successfully dismantled an international criminal organisation involved in the acquisition, storage, and illegal sale of over 26 tons of unregulated phytosanitary products (Plant Protection Products or PPP). Six individuals have been arrested in Spain and France.
The operation, conducted in the cities of Irún (Guipúzcoa), Arenales del Sol (Alicante), and Castres (France), resulted in the seizure of a substantial amount of unregulated phytosanitary products, totaling over 26 tons. Additionally, authorities confiscated nearly €20,000 in cash and seven vehicles. Financial assets, including 14 bank accounts, were frozen, amounting to half a million euros under judicial control. The total value of the seized assets surpasses one million euros.
Profit from illicit sale of phytosanitary products
It is estimated that the criminal organisation generated illegal profits close to €3 million through the illicit sale of these chemical products, not only within Spain but also across various European countries, with France being a notable destination.
The arrested individuals face the following charges;
- membership in a criminal organisation
- environmental crimes
- endangering public health
- catastrophic risk
- falsification of documents
- money laundering
Diseases and pests
The operation highlights the critical importance of plant health in agriculture and forestry. Protecting plants from pests, weeds, and disease-causing organisms is crucial for sustainable and competitive agriculture, biodiversity preservation, and ecosystem protection.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, up to 40% of food crops are lost annually due to diseases and pests, affecting food supplies for millions of people and harming the agriculture sector.
Spain is the leading producer of fruits and vegetables in the European Union and one of the world’s major exporters. Therefore, it holds a significant responsibility in ensuring the safety and health of populations and the environment. Moreover, the use of unauthorised phytosanitary substances poses a severe threat to these concerns.
Illegal manufacturers and distributors of phytosanitary products, often associated with criminal organisations, knowingly accept the risks involved. The demand for these illicit products within the agricultural sector, driven by tradition or perceived effectiveness, contributes to substantial illegal gains for offenders.
The existing European and national regulatory frameworks prohibit or restrict the marketing and use of certain phytosanitary products, emphasising environmental protection and user safety.