By Natalie Williams •
Published: 09 Dec 2021 • 1:15
Costa del Sol based criminal network dismantled by officers from the Guardia Civil in operation GUNPOWDER.
The Guardia Civil, in the framework of the operation Gunpowder, has dismantled a Costa del Sol criminal network that introduced large quantities of hashish in the coasts of Malaga and Cadiz. Forty people have been arrested and 5,770 kilos of hashish have been seized, as well as 17,250 packs of tobacco, 25 vehicles, many of them high-end, of which 21 have been recovered as they were stolen. In addition, 268,000 euros, 2 handguns and a shotgun, as well as a drone, communication equipment and abundant documentation have also been seized.
The operation began last April when the Guardia Civil seized 2,675 kilos of hashish in a nursery. In that action, 2 people were arrested and 6 cargo cars that had been previously stolen were recovered. From that moment on, the Civil Guards got to know how the organization worked.
The new panorama of the organisations dedicated to drug trafficking in the Campo de Gibraltar has changed in recent times, nowadays they are assimilated to subcontracted companies within a business network. Thus, the network investigated in Operation Gunpowder would be in charge of carrying out all the tasks related to the introduction of large consignments of hashish and which are carried out on the mainland, that is to say, collection of the narcotic substance after having been seized on the coast, transfer to the drug nurseries and subsequent distribution.
The dismantled Costa del Sol criminal network introduced large quantities of drugs and tobacco, and the Guardia Civil detected that they were able to introduce 6 tons of hashish per week. In order to reach these levels, the group relied on the fact that they were very knowledgeable about the stash areas.
Those arrested began working mainly in the area of Puente Mayorga, but under pressure from the Guardia Civil, they moved to the coast of Malaga, more specifically to Manilva. For this purpose, they carried out exhaustive studies of its coasts and roads.
The investigators learned that the network had around ten “nurseries” between the towns of San Roque (Cadiz), La Línea de la Concepcion (Cadiz) and Manilva (Malaga), to hide the hashish and the stolen vehicles.
On the other hand, it was detected that the modus operandi most commonly used by the organisation in its drug caches on the beach of Puente-Mayorga and Guadarranque consisted in the use of small inflatable boats that a large group of people would launch to transfer the bales of hashish resin from the powerful boats that cross the Strait to the cargo vehicles.
It is worth mentioning that throughout the investigation it has been demonstrated that the Costa del Sol criminal network alternated shipments of bales of hashish resin with shipments of boxes of contraband tobacco, reusing the same work crews on the beach. In fact, they took advantage of the confusion generated, sometimes during an operation, by the fact that they could not be sure whether it was a drug stash or a stash of smuggled tobacco boxes.
In one of the searches, 50,000 euros in cash were found in the school bag of the underage daughter of one of the detainees, and later another 150,000 euros were found under the mattress of the master bedroom, which the owner of the house claimed was the result of his savings.
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