Fifty arrests dismantling European drugs network

The Guardia Civil, with the collaboration of the Portuguese, French and British authorities, has investigated and arrested a total of 50 people in the so-called CASTLE operation, in which 4,800 kilograms of hashish and 1,962 kilograms of cocaine have been seized.

The operation began in 2022 when the Guardia Civil became aware of a criminal organisation based in Huelva and the Campo de Gibraltar, with links to Portugal. This organisation was responsible for most of the narco-ship launches that were taking place throughout Spain.

Continuing with the investigations, the agents intercepted 3 hashish caches during the course of the operation, one of them near the mouth of the Guadiana River, another between Algeciras and Tarifa, and a third in the Guadalquivir River, totalling 4,800 kilograms of hashish and 4 members of the organisation being detained.

Little by little, the agents got to know the structure of the investigated organisation, discovering that the ringleader was located in the Campo de Gibraltar, associating with another clan located in the province of Huelva. This organisation launched the boats through Portugal.

For this reason, in the summer of last year, the agents proceeded to carry out 21 house searches in the towns of Moguer, Lucena del Puerto, Bonares and Niebla in the province of Huelva and San Roque, La Línea and Alcalá de los Gazules in Cádiz, arresting 19 people and 2 fast boats, 8 350 CV engines, 3,750 litres of fuel, 6 vehicles, as well as electronic material and abundant material for communications.

As a result of these arrests, the agents were able to verify that a part of the organisation would have loaded the drug to the west of the Moroccan coast to be transferred to mainland territory by means of a fast boat, and that the crew in charge of the transport, knowing that the leaders and members of the organisation were being detained, they could not unload the drugs in the peninsula.

After several days at sea, the crew members of the boat contacted another organisation based in the Canary Islands dedicated to cocaine trafficking so that they could support them with the stash. When the crew members were heading to a beach in the municipality of Aldea de San Nicolás de Tolentino on the island of Gran Canaria, the Guardia Civil established a device where they located the boat, a semi-rigid with 3 375 CV motors, and an abandoned van finding inside 1,962 kilograms of cocaine.

For this reason, the agents proceeded to dismantle the organisation located in the Canary Islands, making 4 entries and searches in the towns of Telde and the Aldea de San Nicolás and arresting 5 more members.

Hashish and cocaine routes

Hashish trafficking organisations have established strong links with cocaine trafficking organisations. These organisations use the African route in both directions, the hashish would leave Morocco in the direction of America and in the opposite direction the cocaine would travel across the Atlantic landing on the West Coast of Africa, to later transport it to the Peninsula.

The operation was carried out by the Regional Centre for Analysis and Intelligence against drug trafficking together with the Team Against Organised Crime of the Canary Islands of the Central Operational Unit, the Commands of Seville, Huelva and Las Palmas, all coordinated by EUROPOL with the Portuguese authorities, and those of the French and Great Britain.