EIGHT tonnes of cocaine hidden in a specially-built hidden cargo container have been seized in in the port of Algeciras latest in the latest of Spain’s avalanche of drug busts.
The bonanza of cocaine, Spain’s second largest ever and just the most recent in a string of multi-tonne busts, was hidden in a container ship taking a mazy route from Suriname to Algeciras via Panama.
But the Cadiz province port was not the final destination to unload the illegal merchandise – the cargo’s manifest included plans to proceed to Leixoes, Portugal, before unloading and returning the drugs to Spain by road.
It was all part of an elaborate ruse to disguise the origins of the cargo and throw customs inspectors off the trail of what could otherwise look like a suspicious shipment.
The narcotics were packed inside a custom-built metal structure that officially contained just a generator, but in reality concealed a carefully constructed hidden partition.
Unbelievably, the secret compartment was crafted from an alloy designed to dissipate scanner signals, so that only the generator would be visible to Algeciras Port staff.
However, the narco technicians’ handiwork was lacking, as inspectors were able to make out on their scanner screens a large number of perfectly stacked pallets that took up practically all the available space.
At first they simply thought they had stumbled upon undeclared legal items, which was an offence but not on such a scale.
It was only when Customs Surveillance officials in Algeciras proceeded to break open the secret metal box – which did not have any opening mechanism – that they realised the treasure trove of charlie hidden therein.
Once they shone a light into the chamber, they saw numerous packets, bundles, and bags of high-purity cocaine, totaling around eight tons within more than 7,000 bricks.
Port inspectors had flagged the container as potentially suspicious before it had arrived in Algeciras.
This enabled a team to be ready to inspect it upon its arrival on Monday, February 5th.
The operation, marking one of Spain’s second largest seizures ever, resulted in the arrest of the individual slated to receive the contraband, with a further two more under investigation.
Efforts continue to catch the owner of the company that was destined to receive the shipment.
The seizure just fails to beat Spain’s all time cocaine catch record, which was set – also in Algeciras – in August when nine tonnes was intercepted.
The estimated black market value of the haul was expected to exceed €3 billion, once elements like purity levels and the recent surge in narcotics prices are factored in.
The ship was intercepted in the open waters by agents from the Policia Nacional and the Tax Agency, according to police sources.