They were two of the most important groups operating in drug trafficking in Andalusia. United the most important of those who have been dismantled. They called themselves ‘cartels’, like those in Colombia that dominated this business from Medellin and Cali, or those that now control the drug market from Mexico. In the Strait was the South Strait on the Andalusian coast and the Tangier Strait on the Moroccan coast. Both have been dismantled by a suspicious shipment of tomatoes from a source in Alhaurín de la Torre (Málaga). There were 13 tons of hashish in the form of balls, pretending to be this vegetable.
This is where an investigation by the Civil Guard and the National Police began, with the support of Europol, to completely dismantle the largest criminal organisation, to date, dedicated to drug trafficking detected in the Campo de Gibraltar.
They are blamed for introducing large amounts of cocaine and hashish into Spain through the Port of Algeciras (Cádiz).
The investigation began in February 2021. Two independent actions by the Civil Guard and the National Police culminated in the seizure of 13 tons of hashish. To hide this drug, the criminal group had simulated the appearance of tomatoes and other fruits. After a coordination meeting between both police forces, it was agreed to carry out this investigation jointly under the name of operation “IMPERIUM”.
The target was the largest drug-trafficking mafia in the Strait. The very leaders of this organisation in Spain called themselves the Southern cartel. They had an alliance with their Moroccan partners, who had also called themselves under the name of the Tangier cartel.
The investigation carried out has been able to determine that the Spanish group is responsible for the introduction of 16 tons of cocaine in Andalusia. According to the investigations, they arrived in maritime containers from South America, highlighting the seizure of 9 tons of cocaine in April 2018. It is considered the largest seizure of this drug in Europe.
150 tons of hash
In the operation, customs and police officers integrated into the organization, belonging to the ports of Tangier (Morocco) and Algeciras (Cádiz), were arrested. They were the ones that allowed this alliance of drug traffickers to introduce huge quantities of hashish in vehicles, reaching police documentation of more than 150 tons of hashish transported. Investigators say that more than 83 tons have been seized.
In the case of the introduction of cocaine, it arrived in Spain from Colombia and Costa Rica, countries in which the leaders of this alliance maintained direct contacts with suppliers…
In this operation, two ‘factories’ in which hashish was crushed have been disabled, and the necessary machinery has been found. In these places there were also pieces of wood equipped with double bottoms to be filled with drugs.
The tentacles of this organisation have allowed them to have several police officers on their payroll, some of whom, due to their destination in the Port of Algeciras, facilitated the departure of drug trucks, avoiding the mandatory controls.
This operation has allowed the complete dismantling of the most important criminal organization based in Campo de Gibraltar. 61 people have been arrested and seven International Arrest Warrants (O.I.D) related to the investigation have been processed. 83,683 kilos of hashish, 9,768 of cocaine and 28 of marijuana have been seized. In addition, this organization is also accused of introducing another 67,200 kilos of hashish and 6,200 kilos of cocaine into Spain.
Jewelry and art
In the 34 house searches carried out, five firearms, nine trucks, seven refrigerated trailers, 27 cars, 18 luxury watches, a diamond, ten precious stones and numerous works of art (pending authentication, some of them signed by ‘Erik the Belgian’).
26 real estate properties valued at more than three million euros and 17 motor vehicles valued at more than 400,000 euros have been blocked and seized. […]
This operation has been carried out by agents belonging to Units of the Malaga Civil Guard Command, OCON SUR, CRAIN of the Andalusian Zone and the National Police of Fuengirola (Málaga) and Malaga, with the support of EUROPOL and the Rapid Action Group (GAR). The investigation has been carried out in Spain by the Investigating Court 8 of Malaga and by the Delegate Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office of Malaga.