By Cathy Elelman • 24 July 2019 • 12:30
WIDE-SCALE: The operation resulted in the seizure of nearly 54,000 marijuana plants.
CREDIT: Guardia Civil
THE Guardia Civil has broken up an international network dedicated to the large-scale cultivation of marijuana in Almeria, Murcia and Alicante.
The operation resulted in the seizure of nearly 54,000 marijuana plants overall, more than 70 kilos of hashish, 2.5 kilos of ecstasy and 33 kilos of packaged marijuana from raids in Nijar in Almeria and in San Juan, Elda, Petrer, Denia and Campello in Alicante.
Eleven Spaniards and Lithuanians are under arrest.
A first investigation concluded in September 2017, when the Guardia uncovered a complex of greenhouses containing 41,400 marijuana plants in Nijar. There was one arrest at the time, but indications of the existence of an organised structure cultivating marijuana on a major scale and trafficking drugs prompted the launch of the second phase of the operation.
Initial investigations led in the direction of Camperhermoso, and the discovery of a greenhouse with in excess of 8,000 mature marijuana plants. Tomatoes had been planted at the front of the greenhouse to disguise the illegal cultivation behind.
Two individuals in the greenhouse at the time of the raid attempted to get away. One left an officer with minor injuries when they tried to make off in a car.
The second individual legged it. When officers caught up with and identified the Eastern European it emerged there was a European arrest warrant for him issued by the Belgian authorities.
Continued investigations suggested an Alicante connection. The Guardia were able to identify network members through a high-tech security device used by one of the group to manage the structure; investigators built up a complete picture of his movements and activities.
It became clear they were dealing with a highly organised set up of Eastern Europeans who discreetly came and went from Spain, never staying in hotels or leaving their details registered in any databases.
The investigations also established that they rented out greenhouses located at some distance from towns, and which they camouflaged as legal cultivations. Following the pressure they found their activities under in Almeria province they transferred activities to Alicante.
The Guardia came across a new plantation with 4,000 marijuana plants during the raids on various properties and farms in Alicante province.
A Guardia statement said they had “closed the circle” on the network despite the gang’s tight security and extensive measures to protect themselves from being detected, managing to locate and detain them.
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Cathy Elelman is the local writer for the Costa de Almeria edition of the Euro Weekly News.
Based in Mojacar for the last 21 years, Cathy is very much part of the local community and is always well and truly up on all the latest news and events going on in this region of Spain.
Her top goals are to do the best job she can informing the local English-speaking community, visitors to the area and the wider world about about the news in Almeria, to learn something new every day, and to embrace very new challenge this fast-changing world brings her way.
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