Drug trafficking operations shut down

The Guardia Civil, in a joint operation with the Mossos d’Esquadra of Tarragona, arrested 13 people belonging to a criminal organisation dedicated to drug trafficking in various parts of Catalonia. The operation involved more than three tons of hashish and 80,000 euro in cash.

Likewise, its financial apparatus that laundered the money obtained from its illicit activities and gave it the appearance of legality by buying nautical material to later manufacture “narcolanchas” has been dismantled.

The operation began last year, when the agents dismantled a criminal organisation dedicated to drug trafficking in Catalonia, since part of the organisation’s leadership was investigated in two previous Guardia Civil operations during 2022. It is worth noting the high degree of specialisation that those investigated possessed and the difficulty presented by the mobility of the organisation in the territory, which made surveillance and investigation tasks extremely difficult.

This criminal network had a complex business network, which included legal nautical companies, which gave reliability to their operations and did not raise suspicions when purchasing the narco-boats, acquiring from the hulls to engines or necessary navigation elements to make large maritime displacements, to legal companies based both in Spain and abroad. The profits from their operations were laundered through these same companies.

The investigations, initiated individually by each police force, crossed paths, which is why the police coordination body CITCO (Intelligence Centre against Terrorism and Organised Crime) opted for the creation of a Joint Investigation Team between the Guardia Civil and Mossos d’Esquadra.

The organisation was led by two individuals, who participated in management and supervision tasks, without carrying out compromising activities, even so, the agents were able to intervene, on February 23 in Tossa de Mar (Girona), close to two tons of hashish. This unloading was organised and directly supervised by the organisation, managing to flee the area at the moment the police action began.

The result of joint work between the police forces, allowed locating a business network dedicated to money laundering, financing the activities of the organisation and trying to justify the purchase of the necessary material to build the narco-boats. Those investigated used a transport company, directed by one of the leaders of the organisation, which used a figurehead as the alleged owner.

Within the framework, more companies have been located, a total of seven, all in Catalonia, which facilitated money laundering, simulating commercial activity, and the researchers calculated that more than 2,000,000 euro could have been laundered.

One of the companies was located in Mataró and, in addition to facilitating laundering, it was used to acquire the necessary elements to build the narco-boats. Those investigated used both national companies, located in Pontevedra, Málaga and Cádiz, as well as companies located in Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

Once the elements to build narco-boats were acquired, they were transferred by the main company to clandestine workshops. Three of them were detected, located in the towns of Rubí, Salt and Tarragona.

Throughout the investigation, it has been possible to link those investigated to the apprehension of five drug boats, located in the towns of Cartagena (Mu), Mataró (B), Rubí (B) and Salt.

The agents have been able to verify that the organisation used other narco-boats for more landings of hashish, such as the one that occurred in Almería at the beginning of March, when the Guardia Civil was able to seize almost two tons of hashish and arrest seven people.

The operation was carried out by the Joint Investigation Team (ECI), made up of agents of the Tarragona Guardia Civil, together with the Tarragona Territorial Investigation Unit of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Mossos d’Esquadra. Numerous Units from both bodies have participated, such as the GRS, GEI and ARRO, canine units, scientific police, computer forensics, Judicial Police and Citizen Security Units.