From the Navy to the Cartel
In May a ex British Navy submariner who runs a organised crime group in Spain had been arrested in on suspicion of using his military training to run a drug smuggling operation in the Strait of Gibraltar in May.
Robert Mark Benson, 64, was detained with ten alleged accomplices last week following a lengthy investigation by Spanish police.
Police also seized wo vessels with 1.5 tonnes of hashish aboard in the raid.
Officers claim Benson has links to criminal organisations in the UK and Ukraine, where he allegedly sent the drugs.
He is also accused of laundering the drug smuggling money through shell companies, possibly through two businesses he set up in 2015 – Yacht Matters and Real Estate Cafe.
investigators first cottoned on to Benson’s alleged activities in August 2020, when officers discovered 600kg of hashish aboard a yacht docked in the Spanish North African enclave of Ceuta.
The operation helped investigators track down the rest of the trafficking ring, allegedly linking Benson to a Ceuta-based criminal gang known to supply hashish to smugglers.
In November, police once again foiled the elaborate enterprise, intercepting a boat carrying a tonne of hashish in Sotogrande, Cádiz.
Cash guns knives
Investigators wrapped up the probe last week with the arrest of Benson and nine alleged accomplices in a series of raids in Malaga, Madrid, and Cádiz.
Police also recovered a series of weapons, including knives, a taser gun, and a fake pistol, as well as 5,800 euros in cash, and a drone.
Five expensive vehicles, a sailboat, and two yachts were also recovered. Police have not yet said who owned the flashy items.
And in the latest developments this week on 26th June,
The arrests are linked to an ongoing investigation into international drug trafficking that has so far resulted in the arrest of a number of individuals in Spain.
And follows the seizure of 1.6 tonnes of hashish, 45,000 Euros and four sailing vessels.
The British head of the OCG – a former Royal Navy officer living in Southern Spain – was among those previously arrested.
Known to law enforcement agencies for his links to organised crime groups in the UK and Ukraine, officers believe he trained the crew and ran several companies engaged in buying, selling and renting sailing vessels that were subsequently used to conduct drugs transportations.
Dave Hucker, Head of European Operations for NCA International said:
“This is a huge haul of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than £80million.
I have no doubt the drugs on board were destined for the streets of the UK, so this seizure is a significant result.
“We know that the criminal trade in drugs is driven by financial gain, and the loss of the profit that would have been made from these drugs will have a major impact on the crime groups involved.
“We continue to work with our international law enforcement partners to identify those responsible for supplying class A drugs to the UK, and will do all we can to disrupt their supply chains”.
Over the last 12 months, the NCA has been involved in the seizure, forfeiting or restraining more than £112m and 145 tonnes of drugs globally.
1.5 Tonnes cocaine seizure
This week alone Spainish police have Dismantled one of the most active criminal organisations in Malaga dedicated to cocaine trafficking
In the last phase of the operation, 14 people have been detained, eleven of them entering prison.
They are linked to an apprehension carried out in April of last year of about 1,500 kilograms of cocaine
Throughout the investigation different devices, as well as abundant ammunition has been seized.
Civil Guard agents, in a joint operation with the National Police and with the support of EUROPOL, have arrested 14 people in the provinces of Malaga and Seville and in the autonomous city of Ceuta.
It’s alleged members of one of the criminal organizations most active dedicated to cocaine trafficking in the province of Malaga.
Back in April of last year investigators intercepted a van loaded with 80 kilograms of cocaine that, subsequently, took them to a nursery-floor where another 1,380 kilograms of the same substance were intercepted, proceeding to the arrest of five people.
M16a1 assault rifles
Weeks later, the agents managed to intervene an important arsenal of weapons inside a vehicle of the same organization, among which two assault rifles model M16A1 stand out, perfectly equipped with state-of-the-art marksmanship aid.
These type of weapons exclusively for military use and considered as weapons of war.
Although during the course of this investigation the agents have succeeded in intervening in other drug and weapons groups.
They are dismantling other smaller criminal groups that supported the criminal organisation,.
In mid-June that Finally, he proceeded to deliver the final blow to the different branches of this criminal organisation installed in the province of Malaga.
Restoration and horse riding as the main laundering activities
More than 350 personnel from officers have participated in this operation, carrying out a total of 18 searches, most of them in the Malaga town of Marbella.
proceeding in them to the arrest of 14 people and the intervention of 12 vehicles, counting several of them with sophisticated systems of concealment of weapons, money and drugs. After being brought to justice, eleven of them have entered prison.
During the investigation, the agents have verified that the organization, over the years, has forged an important business network with different and varied lines of business.
The sole purpose was laundering the profits obtained with drug trafficking, based on for this in the restoration and equestrian sector as main business activities.
This investigation has been directed by the Court and Instruction number 4 of Marbella.
Dismantled a criminal organization that intended to introduce 12 tons of hashish in narcolanchas throughout the Levante.
65 people arrested for the introduction into Spain of drugs from the African coasts through pleasure boats, fishing boats and rubber or semi-rigid boats.
More than 12 tons of hashish have been intervened, 5 recreational boats, 15 speedboat-type boats (rubber), 3 jet skis, 3 trucks, 3 semi-trailers, 4 high-end vehicles, a van, 6 mid-range vehicles, 89 mobile phones, and 2 detonating pistols, as well as a large quantity of electronic and computer equipment and financial accounting documentation as well as almost 100,000 euros in cash and 203,000 Belarusian rubles
Dismantled a criminal organization that intended to introduce 12 tons of hashish in narcolanchas throughout the Levante
In a joint operation of the Civil Guard, the National Police, and the Tax Agency, a criminal organization specialized in the transport and introduction of hashish on a large scale has been dismantled along the entire coast of the Spanish Levante. 65 people, of Spanish, Moroccan and Colombian nationality, have been arrested in the provinces of Cádiz, Seville, Almería, Granada, Murcia, Alicante and Tarragona. All of them are charged with the crime of belonging to a criminal organization and crimes against public health in their branch of drug trafficking and money laundering.
This macro-operation is the culmination of two operations that have been carried out since May 2020 to date. Both operations, CRISTAMAR-MAGO and TARLO-MAGO, were pursuing drug trafficking and have concluded at the same time, with the dismantling of the organizations that operated transporting drugs by sea from Africa to the entire Spanish Levant.
The investigations began about a year ago as a result of the suspicions of investigators from the Civil Guard, the National Police, and the Tax Agency about several of the detainees who had meetings to organize the unloading, concealment and distribution of large quantities of hashish.
The organizations were well differentiated, but they interacted with each other for the introduction, concealment and distribution of the drug. They carried out the entry by sea of the narcotic substance through the provinces of the Spanish Levante. They had places for the hiding of drugs and their subsequent distribution around those territories. In addition, in Seville and Tarragona they acquired the necessary logistics to use it in Almería and Murcia. They had decentralized workplace logistics to make police investigation difficult.
Seized hashish ready for distribution and numerous vessels
After conducting a thorough investigation of all those investigated and frustrating on several occasions their aspirations to introduce the drug along the coasts, the searches were carried out. 65 people have been arrested, who entered provisional prison.
More than 12 tons of hashish have been intervened, 5 recreational boats, 15 speedboat-type boats (rubber), 3 jet skis, 3 trucks, 3 semi-trailers, 4 high-end vehicles, a van, 6 mid-range vehicles, 89 mobile phones, and 2 detonating guns. In addition, numerous electronic and computer material and also financial accounting documentation were seized, as well as almost 100,000 euros in cash and 203,000 Belarusian rubles.