Four people have been arrested as responsible for transporting the drug. Two of them controlled the operation from the ground
A house search has been carried out in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, intervening numerous mobile devices from which the transport of the drug was coordinated, as well as documentation that allows the detainees to be linked
The boarding took place some 500 miles northwest of the island of Gran Canaria, using air and sea resources from the Civil Guard
The Civil Guard, within the framework of what has been called Operation Adriatica, has dismantled an international criminal organization, which would be responsible for the introduction of large consignments of cocaine through the Canary Islands.
The investigation began in March 2022 when the Central Operating Unit (UCO) focused it on a Polish-flagged sailboat called ROSSIO, which would have established its temporary base on the island of Gran Canaria and about which, through exchanges of information with the Croatian police suspected that it could be used to transport cocaine from South America.
From that moment, the activities of the crew began to be monitored, two Italian citizens linked to the ´Ndrangheta and a Croat closely linked to the “Balkan Cartel”. During the following months, it was possible to verify how these people, without exercising any type of professional activity, were able to maintain a high standard of living, dedicating themselves exclusively to keeping the sailboat in optimal condition, making small sporadic outings, thus trying to demonstrate an apparent normality.
In this way, it was not until July 27, 2023, when an unusual trip was detected in which the ROSSIO sailboat, with the two Italian crew members on board, began sailing west, traveling more than 750 NM, on an itinerary surrounding the Canary Islands that had its destination in an isolated point of the Atlantic Ocean and from which it began its return on August 2.
Boarding at 500 NM northwest of Gran Canaria
Three days later, specifically on August 5, the sailboat was boarded at a distance of approximately 500 NM northwest of the island of Gran Canaria, finding numerous packages inside that yielded a final weight of 700 kg of cocaine.
This action was carried out by members of the Special Intervention Unit (UEI) with the support of the “Rio Guadiato” vessel of the Maritime Service, as well as a Civil Guard Air Service plane.
At the same time, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the Croat and a Serb citizen who allegedly were coordinating the operation from land and who, at the time of the arrest, were carrying the phones from which they would give instructions to the crew, were arrested.
International cocaine trafficking routes around the Canary Islands
This research corroborates the stability over time of the large European criminal organizations, which are capable of deploying their personnel in different locations for long periods of time, and the geostrategic importance of the Canary Islands in maritime drug trafficking.
The police operation was carried out by the Central Operative Unit of the Civil Guard (Central Anti-drug Group and ECO Canarias) and coordinated by EUROPOL, together with the police from Croatia, Serbia and the Palermo Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate in Italy. Various units of the Civil Guard participated in the approach: Special Intervention Unit (UEI), Provincial Maritime Service of Tenerife, Air Service, as well as personnel from the investigation unit, having been coordinated by the Judicial Police Technical Unit (UTPJ). , by the Coordination Center for Maritime Surveillance of Coasts and Borders (CECORVIGMAR) and by the General Staff of the Civil Guard. Likewise, there was support from personnel from the Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas Commands.