POLICE swooped on a warehouse that was storing nearly five tonnes of cocaine, with an 87% purity, and arrested five Albanian drug traffickers.
The operation, which took place on 23rd June, marks the largest cocaine bust ever recorded in the province of Alicante.
The confiscated drugs, concealed within a shipment of bananas, had an estimated street value of over €265 million.
Following vital intelligence received through diplomatic channels, Spanish authorities became aware of a significant criminal organisation operating in the Alicante region.
Comprised of individuals of Albanian origin, the group was suspected of smuggling and distributing substantial quantities of cocaine.
An intensive investigation was promptly launched to identify and track the members of the criminal network.
Officers conducting the probe observed more than five individuals of Albanian descent, engaging in suspicious activities at an industrial estate in Alicante’s Llano del Espartal.
The organisation members exercised extreme caution, frequently travelling abroad and maintaining multiple residences to evade detection.
The criminals had registered both the warehouse and the vehicles used in their operations under seemingly legitimate companies.
This ruse aimed to avoid arousing suspicion and ease the laundering of drug proceeds.
Furthermore, one of the detainees, a Spanish national, was found to have possible connections with other criminal groups in the Valencia region, utilising front companies for vehicle rentals and warehouse leasing.
On 23rd June, the authorities intercepted several containers arriving at the port of Malaga from Ecuador.
With collaborative efforts from foreign law enforcement agencies, it was suspected that these containers, officially transporting bananas, might also harbour unwelcome narcotics.
Two of these containers were destined for Alicante, prompting the authorities to discreetly monitor their journey from Malaga.
The breakthrough came when the containers were unloaded at the warehouse in Llano del Espartal, and investigators caught the criminals in the act.
Donning reflective work attire to blend in with the surroundings, they began unloading the containers, unaware that the police were closing in on them.
Upon inspection, it was revealed that, alongside the declared bananas, the containers concealed almost 400 packages of cocaine, weighing a total of 4,800 kilograms.
The culprits, all Albanian males between the ages of 28 and 40, were arrested and face charges of belonging to a criminal organisation and drug trafficking.
Laboratory tests on the seized drugs confirmed their high purity at 87%.
The operation extended to Alicante and Elche, where three residential searches were conducted, yielding substantial evidence, approximately €6,000 in cash, and four high-end vehicles.
The operation involved the joint efforts of various law enforcement units, including the Narcotics and Organized Crime Units of Alicante and Malaga Police, the Special Response Group Against Organized Crime Levante, and the Combined Customs Surveillance Unit of Malaga.
The successful operation has led to the dismantling of one of the most active drug trafficking organisations operating in the Levant region.
Authorities have not ruled out further arrests in the coming days.