With the support of Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre, the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and National Police (Policía Nacional) have dismantled a drugs trafficking network which allegedly relied on corrupt law enforcement and customs officers to ship hundreds of millions of euros’ worth of cocaine and hashish into Western Europe.
A total of 61 individuals were arrested for their involvement in this criminal operation, including five officers from the Civil Guard, one from the National Police and one from customs, who were identified thanks to the collaboration with Europol and Eurojust.
These arrests follow an 18-month long investigation into two criminal gangs, known as ‘Clan de Tanger’ and ‘Clan del Sur’, who are believed to have smuggled over 16 tonnes of cocaine and 150 tonnes of hashish via the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain for further distribution across Europe. The drugs were hidden among shipments of tomatoes, watermelons and melons. The criminal group dismantled is considered to be the most active network operating around the Port of Algeciras.
The corrupt law enforcement and customs officers were paid by the criminal organisation to make sure that the drugs were not intercepted as they were smuggled in the Spanish port of Algeciras.
In the frame of the investigation, the Spanish authorities conducted 34 raids which led to:
- The arrest of 61 individuals, including 7 under European Arrest Warrants issued by other countries;
- The seizure of 26 properties valued at over EUR 3 million;
- The seizure of 17 vehicles valued at over EUR 400 000;
- The seizure in cash of over EUR 1 million;
- The seizure of over 83 tonnes of hashish and 9 tonnes of cocaine.
Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre supported the investigation by providing actionable intelligence and analytical support. On 11 May 2022, two Europol teams were deployed to Spain on the action day to facilitate the extensive exchange of information and provide forensic support for the seized electronic devices.
Cases such as this one involving law enforcement and customs officers show how much corruption has infiltrated society. In its 2021 Serious Organised Crime Threat Assessment, Europol highlighted that over 60 % of criminal groups in the EU engage in corruption, making it a key threat to be addressed in the fight against serious organised crime.
Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre has set up a dedicated team of experts – known as Analysis Project Corruption – to put a stop to it.