Spanish Civil Guard, within the framework of a joint operation with agents of the National Police and Officials of the Tax Agency’s Customs Surveillance Service, have intercepted a fishing boat loaded with more than 2,900 kilos of cocaine in waters south of the Canary Islands. hid in one of its fuel tanks, detaining its five crew members.
The operation, called ‘Capirote-Piteas-Acerico’, led to the boarding of the ship, a 20-meter-long fishing vessel, named ‘AKT 1’, on the afternoon of April 13, some 300 nautical miles south of the Canary Islands , for its subsequent transfer and arrival at the port of Las Palmas yesterday. The operation has been directed and coordinated by the Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office of the National High Court.
The action is the result of international collaboration through the exchange of information between the MAOC-N (Atlantic Analysis and Operations Center) and the CITCO (Intelligence Center Against Terrorism and Organized Crime). Based on this initial information, investigators from the Customs Surveillance Service, the Civil Guard and the National Police determined the possible involvement of a vessel suspected of illicit drug trafficking from South America.
Hidden along the route of the Sub-Saharan fishing ground
As a consequence of this, the Deputy Directorate of Customs Surveillance of the Tax Agency established the opportune air-naval device that resulted in the location and boarding of the fishing boat by the patrol boat ‘Cóndor’, when it was sailing north, pretending to camouflage itself among the usual fishing boats that they take that navigation route close to the sub-Saharan fishing ground.
At the time of the boarding it was observed that the fishing boat was transporting a significant number of bundles of those usually used for cocaine trafficking, so the five crew members of the boat, four of Turkish nationality, were immediately arrested. and a Georgian citizen.
Complex boarding and navigation conditions
The navigation and boarding conditions were very complicated, due to the bad situation of the sea, with strong northerly winds of more than 40 knots and gusts of up to 60. Despite these difficulties, the fast performance of the ship ‘Cóndor ‘ and its crew members prevented the possible transshipment of the narcotics to other vessels, which would have compromised the detection of the shipment.
During the subsequent transfer to port, it was even necessary to alert Maritime Rescue in anticipation of a machine failure of the fishing boat, a ‘substandard’ boat (vessels that do not meet basic international safety and navigation standards) whose engine was in a bad state. condition, to the point that a fire on board was feared, which led to a technical stop in the port of Arguineguín (south of Gran Canaria) to check the status of the fishing vessel before finally heading to Las Palmas.
The ‘Capirote’ operation is the first seizure carried out by the ‘Cóndor’ patrol boat when barely a month has passed since it was put into service in the Canary Islands. This modern patrol boat, 43 meters long and with a crew of 14, was assigned to the Canary Islands Customs Surveillance Operational Area on March 15 to reinforce the surveillance of such a strategic point for the fight against drug trafficking in the Atlantic, such as the Canary archipelago.
Both the detainees, as well as the boat, the drug and the police proceedings will be handed over to the Central Court of Investigation acting as Guard of the National High Court, the first proceedings being carried out by the Court of Instruction acting as Guard of Las Palmas de Gran Canary.
With this operation, the results of the efforts of the Tax Agency and the State Security Forces and Bodies in the fight against drug trafficking in the so-called ‘African Route’ of cocaine, known for being used by fishing that receive the narcotic substances in the middle of the Atlantic for their subsequent introduction into the European continent, using the African coastal route to go unnoticed among the incessant fishing traffic in the area.