SPANISH police have been handed €1million by Europol to continue its fight against international organised crime until 2025.
The European police organisation’s EMPACT unit is focused on tackling criminal gangs involved in fields as diverse as cannabis, heroin and cocaine smuggling, human trafficking and illegal immigration, as well as guns smuggling and terrorism.
In 2021 Europol provided intelligence and funds through EMPACT, which were used in more than 20 operations in Spain against organised crime
One of the most wanted international drug traffickers was arrested in one of these operations when Guardia Civil in Barcelona were helped by officers from the French Gendarmerie, Belgian police and the US DEA.
They arrested 17 people, 11 of them Spanish and six Moroccans, during 16 raids in Barcelona, Pontevedra and Cadiz.
Nearly €1 million in cash, 10 high-end vehicles, a boat, watches and jewellery valued at more than €3 million, as well as €18,000 in El Gordo lottery tickets were seized.
Among those arrested was the ringleader and main target of the operation, a Moroccan considered to be responsible for smuggling 4.3 tonnes of hashish into San Pedro del Pinatar (Murcia) and 1.8 tonnes of cocaine into Galicia in 2021.
He is also considered responsible for the introduction of more than a ton of cocaine to the coasts of El Jadida in Morocco in December 2018.
Meanwhile, this summer, the Policia Nacional, using EMPACT resources, dismantled the largest cocaine distribution network in Europe.
Operation Musala-Ibiza was coordinated through Europol and carried out jointly with police in Croatia, Serbia, Germany, Slovenia, the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Administration) and Colombia.
Some 2.6 tonnes of cocaine and 70 kilos of marihuana buds were seized and 13 people arrested after a year-long investigation into the international drug trafficking network.
Police also seized €200,000 in cash, nine high-end vehicles and five motorbikes, a firearm and 300 bullets and fake police ID.
In Spain, the operation involved simultaneous raids in Madrid, Valencia, Marbella, Barcelona and Tarragona.
Spanish police have pledged to increase the pressure on international crime syndicates, using EMPACT resources, over the next few years until a new cycle of funding is announced.