Europol has dismantled a criminal network involved in trafficking large quantities of cocaine and hashish to the European Union via the African route.

The overall results of the operation included the seizure of almost 5 tonnes of hashish and 2 tonnes of cocaine, as well as equipment such as boats, 350HP engines, almost 4 000 liters of gasoline, vehicles, trailers, jam detectors, and beacons used for tracking shipments.

The year-long investigation discovered that the criminal network had established a multi-product trafficking scheme with a two-way supply chain. This consisted of the trafficking of hashish from Morocco to South America, and cocaine back across the Atlantic and via the west coast of Africa before being transported to the Spanish mainland. The cocaine was smuggled in containers and transported using fast boats that were also used for smuggling hashish.

Buy Me A Coffee

Initially, the investigators identified members of the organization, based in Huelva and the Gibraltar area, as being involved in maritime drug trafficking throughout the Iberian Peninsula. The investigation revealed that the leaders of the organization were also based in these two areas, while other members were operating in Morocco, Portugal, and the Canary Islands. This investigation shed light on a new development: hashish-trafficking networks have established links with cocaine-trafficking organizations and are using their existing supply chain to diversify their drug portfolio and optimize their logistics in the drive for higher profits. 

Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided continuous analytical support to the investigation. On the two action days, Europol deployed experts to Spain to cross-check operational information in real-time and provide leads to officers in the field.