Twenty-seven arrested as European Police dismantle large drug smuggling network

An international drugs smuggling network responsible for trafficking large quantities of illegal drugs into and out of Spain has been dismantled. Long-running Operation Capea, led by Spain’s Guardia Civil in Navarra, was coordinated by Europol and Eurojust, working in cooperation with French and Dutch law enforcement authorities.

For years, this organised criminal group from Navarra was the main importer of speed (amphetamine sulphate) to Spain. They would receive consignments of cannabis resin, shipped in horse transporters, from another criminal group in Valencia. Once received, the drugs were concealed in cans and then transported by lorry to The Netherlands. French Police intercepted a lorry bound for The Netherlands on 30/11/2011, which contained over half a tonne of cannabis resin. This was to be exchanged for 200 kg of speed and sent back to the criminals in Spain for onward distribution.

The effective law enforcement cooperation demonstrated by this operation has so far resulted in:

  • Seizure of 675 kg of cannabis resin, by French Police, which is undergoing analysis in Spain to establish links with other drugs seized. Two individuals accompanying the drugs through France were arrested and subsequently jailed in Spain
  • Spain’s Guardia Civil carried out 25 house searches and seized:
    • 4.3 kg of speed plus ketamine, cocaine and other illegal substances
    • An indoor cannabis plantation and more than 100 cannabis plants
    • Four firearms
  • 27 arrests in Spain in Valencia, Madrid, La Rioja, Zaragoza and Navarra. Those arrested were linked to three international drug trafficking organisations
  • Spanish Customs (AEAT) blocked 97 bank accounts, and seized 19 apartments, six companies and eight vehicles as part of a parallel money-laundering investigation.

As part of the investigation, links were discovered to another violent criminal group involved in contract killings and extortion. Three Colombians from this group are among the 27 arrested and they are also awaiting trial in Spain.

Supporting the investigation were two Europol specialists who were present in Spain for the action day in early August this year, deploying the Europol mobile office, as well as assisting with the secure dismantling of outdoor and indoor cannabis plantations. In the initial stages of the investigation Europol hosted an operational coordination meeting in The Hague, and Europol drugs experts facilitated the exchange and analysis of key criminal intelligence.

Europol Website