Dismantled a drug trafficking network that simulated breakdowns in sailboats to introduce hashish in Spain

Agents of the Spanish National Police, in a joint operation with the Civil Guard and the Customs Surveillance Service of the Tax Agency and international collaboration with the Portuguese Judicial Police, have seized 172 kilos of hashish introduced into Spain in the cabin of a sailboat.

The operation, framed within the Southern Plan and the Special Security Plan for the Campo de Gibraltar aimed at the fight against drug trafficking in the Campo de Gibraltar, has ended with the arrest of two people in El Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz). To introduce the drug, one of those arrested made a sea voyage on a sailboat to the Moroccan coast, where he loaded the narcotic substance that he hid in the cabins; once in territorial waters, he requested maritime assistance, faking a breakdown or accident, to enter the port under tow. Once in Spain, they moved the drug in small batches to a storage room, located in the municipality of Cadiz, used as a nursery waiting to be transported out of the country.

drug trafficking in sailboats

The investigation began in the summer of 2021 when the agents detected a sailboat-type vessel and several individuals, with a history of drug trafficking, making suspicious movements compatible with activities related to drug trafficking.

In June 2021, the main person under investigation -and owner of the boat- docked at the Puerto Deportivo de Barbate after having suffered an alleged killer whale attack when crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. The incident caused a change in the boat used, not managing, however, to move the focus away from the investigation to which it was being subjected.

After several police investigations, the agents learned of the existence of habitual displacements of the principal investigated to Lisbon, which is why they requested collaboration from the Portuguese Judicial Police. In this sense, they established a device made up of National Police, Civil Guard and Tax Agency agents, which made it possible to detect a meeting between the Spanish suspect and a Portuguese citizen. The agents of the Portuguese Judicial Police identified this person, known for his numerous records related to drug trafficking and illegal possession of weapons.

The investigators were able to document various encounters that allowed the Portuguese target to be assigned the role of the owner of the narcotic substance and the person who financed all the operations necessary to end drug trafficking; while the Spanish citizen was the one who sailed to a point in international waters, where the narcotic was loaded, returning to his base in a marina in the area. 

A storage room as a drug nursery in El Puerto de Santa María

As a result of the actions and follow-ups, carried out jointly and coordinated between agents of the National Police, Civil Guard and Customs, it was recorded that after returning from a crossing, again “accidental”, in which they had to enter the port under tow , those investigated were going to move a quantity of notorious importance between a storage room, which served as a nursery and the neighboring country.

For all this and after being aware that they were moving the drug to the controlled storage room, they were arrested and the corresponding entry and search warrants were requested from the judicial authority, which allowed the seizure of 160 brick-shaped packages of hashish. , which later yielded a weight of 172 kilos, more than 63,000 euros in cash hidden in a safe, mobile phones, a vehicle and a laptop, and numerous documents that evidenced the existence of these illicit operations since 2016, with a plan designed expressly to introduce narcotic substance in Europe through the use of sailboats.