Spanish National Police detain 3,695 people and dismantle more than 800 marijuana plantations in international ‘Operation Green’

The National Police continues to lead the international fight against the cultivation and international trafficking of marijuana thanks to the so-called Operation Green, a pioneering operation in Europe launched in February 2019 with the support of INTERPOL and EUROPOL. During the second phase of the Plan –developed from August 2,019 to October 2,020- a total of 3,695 people have been arrested and more than 800 cannabis plantations have been dismantled in the different operations carried out throughout the country. In addition, 496,047 marijuana plants have been seized and 25,642 kilos of marijuana, 23,849 kilos of hashish, 3,140 kilos of cocaine, 85 kilos of heroin, 458 firearms and more than 7,600,000 euros have been seized.

The Green Operation is the operational result of the study and analysis of the current situation of drug trafficking in Spain, and its objective of giving an active response to the cultivation and trafficking of marijuana as well as the settlement in Spain of organized crime from other points of Europe. More than 2,000 agents, specialized in the fight against drug trafficking, are part of this project.

Improvement and professionalization of indoor plantations

Operation Green was launched in February 2.019, after several international operations carried out in recent years with the collaboration of police officers from other countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Serbia, Italy and Portugal. In them, the researchers observed that the origin of the marijuana was in our national territory, a circumstance that motivated the launching of an Operational Plan to respond to and investigate the international and national organizations based in Spain specializing in marijuana drug trafficking.

Since the beginning of the Plan, the researchers have detected a progressive improvement of the indoor plantations which, together with their difficult detection as it is not possible to view them from the outside, has forced the police to improve specific investigation techniques in order to detect them. .

Furthermore, the professionalization of marijuana cultivation implies an increase in investment in plantations and an increase in yield, which in turn causes a notable increase in illicit profits. Over time, plantations improve from a quantitative point of view –more plants per square meter or a greater number of harvests– as well as qualitatively –improvements in the selection of seeds and the use of sophisticated fertilization or air conditioning systems that allow a permanent crop production-.

3,695 people arrested and more than 800 plantations dismantled

Thanks to this detailed study, and the active development of the second phase of Operation Green, 3,695 people have been arrested and more than 800 cannabis plantations have been located throughout the country, involving a total of 496,047 marijuana plants. These plantations were installed in all types of homes, garages, warehouses, industrial buildings and even public establishments.

In addition, and due to the need for electrical energy required by the “indoor” plantations, the agents have carried out an evaluation of the economic damage caused by the fraud of electrical fluid when making illegal hookups. In total, and taking into reference the cost of electricity for an intensive high-yield crop, the researchers estimate that the fraud amounts to 6,000,000 euros per quarter.

The cultivation of marijuana brings with it a variety of related crimes, such as drug trafficking of cocaine or heroin, illicit possession of weapons, money laundering, fraud of electricity, belonging to a criminal organization or “overturns” (drug theft between drug traffickers ). This has allowed that, in addition to the 25,642 kilograms of marijuana and 23,849 kilos of hashish, in the second phase of Operation Green in recent months 3,140 kilos of cocaine and 85 kilos of heroin have been seized. Likewise, the agents have intervened 646 vehicles, more than 7,600,000 euros and 458 firearms, including 14 from war.

Marijuana destined for other countries of the European Union

The dismantling of the marijuana plantation and production points in our country supposes the cutting of the first link in the chain of an international criminal phenomenon. Part of the marijuana produced in Spain is destined for third countries, mainly the European Union, which implies that different criminal organizations from various countries may be involved in all other links of the same. After the phase of cultivation, collection and processing of marijuana, comes the packaging and storage to, finally, organize transport of the merchandise, mainly using the method of concealment between legal merchandise and transporting it to various countries such as France, Italy or the United Kingdom.

Marijuana plantations underground or hidden in forests

During the second phase of Operation Green, important operations have been carried out against the cultivation and international trafficking of marijuana. In October of this year, the largest plantation found underground to date was dismantled by the National Police, located in the province of Toledo. The pit in which the illegal cultivation was hidden was dug four meters deep and had an approximate area of ​​300 square meters, with different entry / exit accesses -one at each end of the farm- through holes made in the land. The excavation hid 1,022 marijuana plants in different stages of growth, some of which were already ready to be collected.

Equally significant is the location and dismantling, in less than a year, of four hidden marijuana plantations in the forests of Agüero (Huesca). As a result of these operations, the agents seized some 18.5 tons of marijuana – 31,698 plants – and managed to dismantle two groups of Albanian origin dedicated to large-scale cannabis trafficking, arresting a total of 13 people.

All the dismantled plantations were hidden in wooded areas with very difficult access, in which the members of the group had cut down large areas of pine forests, making the most of the forest terraces to grow marijuana. To irrigate the crops, the detainees had altered the ravines and created artificial ponds to store water, which was subsequently conducted to the cannabis fields with hoses moved with water pumps fed by electric power generators.