Spanish Civil Guard dismantled a criminal organization that imported large amounts of cocaine hidden between PET scales

The Spanish Civil Guard, in operation Picass 21, in collaboration with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) of the United States, as well as with the DIRAN (Anti-narcotics Directorate) of the Colombian National Police and the Ecuadorian National Police, have dismantled an important criminal organization dedicated to introducing cocaine into Spain by sea, from South America.

A total of 18 people have been arrested, of which 16 are men and 2 women, and another 3 men have been investigated. Those involved are between the ages of 23 and 59, and are of Colombian, Ecuadorian, Bolivian, Spanish, Albanian and Dutch nationality.

The police operation began in April of last year 2021, after the investigators became aware of a possible transport of narcotic substances, from the South American coasts to our country.

The first investigations showed that the leaders of the organization, based in Spain, of Ecuadorian and Colombian origin, were imprisoned for having a history of drug trafficking, illegal detention and use of firearms, related to what are known as “overturns” (drug thefts from other drug traffickers), in the towns of Petrer (Alicante) and Alfafar (Valencia).

Management of the criminal organization from prison

From their corresponding penitentiary centers and through mobile phones that they kept hidden, these people gave instructions to their trusted collaborators, who were free and located both in the Valencian Community and in the Region of Murcia, Colombia and Ecuador, to coordinate, not not only the transport of cocaine on a large scale, but also its processing in Spain, its transport in “heated” vehicles and even its retail sale.

The development of the investigation led the agents to an imminent transport of cocaine from Ecuador in a maritime container, whose illegal cargo would be mixed with screen merchandise, for which a police device was established to control the shipment from its origin in America. .

New method of concealment

Once said container arrived at the Port of Algeciras last October, it was inspected, finding 22,000 kilograms of multicolored PET flakes (“polyethylene terephthalate”, a type of plastic widely used in the manufacture of containers drinks and textiles), distributed in 906 bags of 25 kilograms each, which after careful analysis yielded a result of 87 bags containing red and green particles, mixed with PET flakes, not being easy to differentiate from naked eye but that, after being subjected to a specialized test, offered a positive result for cocaine.

It is worth noting the difficulty of detecting the substance, not only due to the small size of the particles, but also because the cocaine had originally been subjected to a chemical process, which caused it not to react to the analysis of certain rapid tests, and that it was not detected by the dogs specialized in the detection of narcotics.

For all these reasons and as the first phase of exploitation, once the illegal cargo had been removed, a police operation was established for the controlled delivery of the inspected container, taking the agents to a district of the Murcian town of Jumilla, where the arrest was made. of the six men who were preparing to store the merchandise in a ship.

When said establishment was inspected, 363 similar bags were found that also contained PET flakes, as well as documentation related to their importation, which strengthened the agents’ suspicions that it was not the first drug transport they carried out using the same modus operandi.

Dismantled two cocaine laboratories

Other members of the criminal organization were immediately arrested and 4 entries and searches were carried out in the provinces of Murcia and Alicante, located in a garage and in an apartment in the center of Alicante, two laboratories for processing, cutting and cocaine packaging.

The organization had moved from Colombia to Spain a person with specific chemical knowledge, who would be in charge of carrying out the complex process of transforming the cocaine particles into compact blocks, to give the substances their initial appearance, in order to introduce them. in the market.

One of the main investigated, of Colombian origin, tried to flee back to his country, being arrested by agents of the Civil Guard of the Madrid-Barajas Airport, when he was about to board a plane.

Days later, a new phase of exploitation was carried out, in which members of all the Civil Guard units involved in the investigation and agents from the United States DEA and the Ecuadorian National Police participated for this purpose.

In this phase, the arrest of 5 people was carried out, including the 2 who were already in prison, as well as the investigation of another 3, all of them in the provinces of Alicante, Valencia and Murcia, due to their relationship, in different degrees of involvement, with the alleged crimes of criminal organization and drug trafficking.

International cooperation

Finally, on January 27, agents of the DIRAN (Anti-narcotics Directorate) of the Colombian National Police, with the support of members of the Civil Guard displaced to said country, of the DEA, and of INTERPOL, proceeded to arrest of one of those investigated in Cali, on whom an international arrest and extradition order weighed, issued by the Investigating Court No. 2 of Torrevieja (Alicante).

Overall, the operation has resulted in the seizure of 1,461 kilograms of cocaine-positive substance, 74 grams of already processed cocaine, dozens of cans and barrels of substances that can be used to cut cocaine, two precision scales, a hydraulic press, more than 5,000 euros in cash and a vehicle equipped with a hidden compartment, enabled for the transport of drugs, commonly known as a “caleta”, adding to all of the above, the two dismantled cocaine laboratories, as well as the total dismantling of the organization investigated from its origin.

The operation has been developed jointly by the EDOA (Organized Crime and Anti-Drug Team) of the Alicante Command, the EDOA (Organized Crime and Anti-Drug Team) of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Command and the ECO (Organized Crime Team) of the UCO based in Galicia, which had the collaboration of the Liaison Office of the Civil Guard deployed in Colombia, the DEA of the United States, the DIRAN (Anti-narcotics Directorate) of the Colombian National Police and the National Police of Ecuador .