The Spanish Civil Guard dismantles the most active criminal organization in the introduction of cocaine in Europe

The Spanish Civil Guard, in the so-called CETIL operation, has dismantled a major international criminal organization, which is directly responsible for the introduction of more than 6,000 kilograms of cocaine from South America, through different parts of the European continent. In the last phase of this operation, agents from the Civil Guard’s Central Operational Unit (UCO), together with agents from the Dutch Police and the US agencies HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) and CBP (Customs and Border Protection), they have acted simultaneously in different parts of Spain and the Netherlands coordinated by EUROPOL. 

HVT (High value target)

These latest actions have resulted in the arrest of 8 people of Dutch nationality, some of them being considered HVT, a high value target in the European police field, of which 5 have occurred in our country and 3 in the Netherlands, in addition to the seizure of 480 kilograms of cocaine in the port of Valencia, in a maritime container from South America.  The detainees in Spain are charged with crimes against Public Health, drug trafficking, and belonging to a Criminal Organization, and regarding the arrests produced in the Netherlands, they are derived from compliance with OIE’s (European Investigation Orders ), issued by the Central Court of Instruction No. 5 of the National Court. 

Different routes of entry of cocaine into Europe from Spain

 The CETIL operation began at the end of 2019 in the province of Pontevedra, when the Galicia Organized Crime Team (ECO) focused its objectives on a possible stable line for the introduction of cocaine through the port of Marín (Pontevedra), after the analysis of the apprehensions produced that year. In fact, since that moment, about a ton of cocaine has been intervened in several shipments, all of them linked to this Dutch organization. In view of these apprehensions, this criminal group tried to open other routes of entry for cocaine, choosing the port area of ​​Valencia to introduce large consignments of narcotics as a gateway to Europe, with about 3,200 kilograms of this seized by the Civil Guard substance in different maritime shipments made between March and June 2020 in that port.  

Homicides, arms trafficking and military training

 The nucleus of this organization was based in the Netherlands, but its members traveled and met in Spain to organize and plan the different shipments of narcotic substance from South America. Throughout the investigation, it was possible to corroborate that several of its members had a wide variety of antecedents for serious crimes such as arms trafficking, extortion and even homicide, as well as that it was a perfectly hierarchical organization with different roles for each one of its components, counting in its logistics and support apparatus with personnel with military training and experience in war missions, mainly in charge of counter-surveillance at its meetings. 

Use of our own encrypted messaging apps

 These counter-surveillance were carried out by personnel with extensive knowledge of telecommunications devices, even developing their own encrypted messaging Apps, which were not only used to communicate between members of the criminal group, but also to do so with the different South American cartels suppliers of the narcotic, which all together greatly slowed down the work of the agents.  Given that some of those investigated spent most of their time in their country of origin, the Central Operative Unit of the Civil Guard, decided to establish a joint line of investigation with their Dutch counterparts, in order to dismantle this important criminal organization. This police coordination is judicially directed from the Central Court of Instruction number 5 and the Special Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office, both from the National High Court, in turn coordinated with the Dutch authorities.This joint working team quickly made it possible to fully identify all the components of the organization, as well as the intervention of a shipment of cocaine in the port of the Dutch city of Westland and another in that of Valencia, with about 500 kilos of narcotic drugs. Despite the continuous losses suffered, the criminal group continued to manage and order new shipments of cocaine, establishing its base of operations, for more direct management, between the provinces of Valencia and Malaga. The continuous change of residence between ostentatious urbanizations of Marbella and Benalmádena and the use of luxurious boats, credited the criminal degree of its members in view of their high standard of living.  Finally, in the first days of this month of October, the operation of this operation was carried out, in which with the coordination of EUROPOL, it was acted simultaneously in different cities of Spain and the Netherlands, participating in them in addition to the Guardia Civil, the Netherlands Politie and American agencies such as HSI and CBP. Overall, the operation has resulted in the apprehension of more than 6,000 kilograms of cocaine in different ports and, in the 9 searches carried out, high-value jewels have been seized, some € 40,000 in cash, 20 telephone terminals encryption and abundant documentation that would link this organization to large-scale international drug trafficking.   The investigation has been directed by the Central Court of Instruction number 5 and the Special Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office of the National Court and carried out by the Team Against Organized Crime (ECO) based in Galicia of the Central Operative Unit of the Civil Guard.