Spain’s Civil Guard smashed a network specializing in smuggling South American cocaine into Europe, arresting 43 people and seizing drugs and more than $1.2 million in counterfeit U.S. currency.
The group used couriers - known as “mules” - as well as boats, planes and postal parcels to smuggle the cocaine into Spain, the Civil Guard said Monday.
Among the 43 people arrested and 124 charged in the case are 36 Spaniards, 88 Colombians, 9 Dominicans and 20 Ecuadorians, along with individuals from Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil, among other countries.
Collaborating with the organization were employees at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport who received the drug before it could be detected by police screening procedures.
In October 2012, the Civil Guard launched an investigation into the presence in Spain of Colombians suspected of bringing cocaine into the country in large quantities.
The leaders of the organization in Colombia, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Peru, were in charge of acquiring the drug, organizing the shipments and later ensuring that the coke made it into Spain.
The profits from the trafficking operation were returned to Colombia via firms that provide cash transfer services.
One of the top figures in the organization, who is now under arrest, has been linked to the 2008 murders and dismemberment in Argentina of two Colombians. EFE