Spanish authorities seize 700 kg of cocaine near Canary Islands

Spanish authorities seize 700 kg of cocaine near Canary Islands

Authorities seized drugs, arrested several people after pan-European investigation

By Giovanni Legorano

ROME (AA) - A joint investigation by Italian and Spanish authorities led to the seizure of 700 kilograms (1,543 pounds) of cocaine near Spain’s Canary Islands and the arrests of several people earlier this month, Italy’s anti-mafia prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Spanish police seized the drugs on a Polish-flagged sailboat coming from South America on Aug. 5.

They arrested two Italian citizens they found aboard, accusing them of drug trafficking. One of the Italian men is the owner of the vessel.

Spanish authorities also arrested two men of Serbian and Croatian nationality in the city of Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria, suspected of controlling the smuggling operations from there.

One of the Italian individuals is allegedly linked to the Calabrian mob ‘Ndrangheta, while the Croatian is suspected to have ties with the so-called Balkan Cartel, authorities said.

Serbian and Croatian authorities as well as Europol collaborated in the investigation.

“The investigation identified a significant threat; criminal organisations’ increasing ability to collaborate closely and deploy members to different locations for longer periods to enable large-scale drug trafficking,” Europol said in a statement.

The probe began in March 2022 and focused on the Polish-flagged vessel, which had an established temporary base in the Canary Islands.

Since then, law enforcement monitored the activities of the crew and found the vessel was making irregular trips “to demonstrate normality” up until July 27, when the Spanish authorities detected an unusual trip to an isolated point deeper in the Atlantic Ocean, Europol said.

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