4th February 2023
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Spain’s Guardia Civil bust ‘Ukraine humanitarian aid’ drug smuggling ring

Spain’s Guardia Civil police said on Monday that they had busted a drug smuggling ring that was transporting cannabis across Europe under the pretence of being a convoy of humanitarian aid destined for Ukraine.

During the police operation called ‘Marlin’ [view videos of the raids via Twitter link below], 30 suspects were arrested – among them Spaniards, Ukrainians, Germans and Moroccans – at several locations across Andalusia, a Guardia Civil statement said.

The marijuana, which came from plantations located across the region, was ‘packaged in cardboard boxes disguised as supplies and humanitarian aid destined for Ukraine’, it said.

They were then packed into vans registered in Ukraine that were ‘purportedly acting as a solidarity convoy so they could pass under the radar of police and border controls’, while visiting various European countries, it said.

Police were alerted to the scheme after identifying a group of Ukrainians on the Costa del Sol who were collecting large quantities of marijuana that were stored in a flat in Mijas, near Málaga.

During the first stage of the investigation, the police detected in Fuengirola (Málaga) two vans registered in Ukraine with a total of 109 kg of marijuana vacuum-packed and camouflaged in cardboard boxes.

During further raids, which also targeted sites in the Málaga province as well as in the cities of Granada, Córdoba and Seville, police seized nearly €800,000 in cash, six guns and 2,500 cannabis plants.

The suspects were charged with various offences, including drug trafficking, membership of a criminal organisation and the illegal possession of weapons.

A total of 8 raids were carried out. During the arrests, two of those being investigated tried to flee, hitting a police vehicle occupied by two agents, who suffered minor injuries. They were finally arrested, and also charged with a crime against road safety and another with an attack against law enforcement officers.

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