Major crackdown on ‘spiritual’ sect across Spain and Europe 

Gang preyed on those seeking 'enlightenment'

Police make 18 arrests. Credit:

A widespread desire for spiritual awakening has revealed massive exploitation by criminal networks across Europe.

A major operation, reported on Wednesday, January 17, by the National Police and Customs Surveillance of the Tax Agency has dismantled an extensive criminal organisation.

This network, based in various Spanish locations including Madrid, Malaga, Ibiza and Lloret de Mar was implicated in neoshamanic rituals involving illicit psychoactive substances.

Operation details

In a coordinated operation, a total of 18 individuals were apprehended on charges that included involvement in a criminal organization and public health violations.

The arrests took place in early January 2024. Notably, some detainees are also accused of human trafficking, unauthorised medical practice, labour rights violations, smuggling, and breaching immigration laws.

Global network exposed

Investigations uncovered that the group operated so-called ‘epicentres of inner evolution’ not only in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, Granada, and Ibiza) but also in countries like France, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Finland, Romania, Malta, Mexico, Colombia, and Turkey.

These centres hosted the illegal rituals. Investigators discovered that the group’s Colombian jungle base produced ayahuasca, later smuggled into Spain via Madrid’s Barajas-Adolfo Suarez airport using ‘mules’ or disguised as legitimate imports.

Rituals and recruitment

Members organized retreats named ‘inner evolution,’ charging attendees for access to prohibited and health-hazardous substances like ayahuasca, toad bufo, rana kambo, and peyote.

These events were falsely authorised by a registered doctor and his accomplice posing as a medical graduate.

The organisation’s leader, viewed as a spiritual guru by followers, faced charges including sexual crimes and facilitating illegal immigration before his death which occurred during the investigation.

Seizures and substance abuse

During raids, authorities seized €24,000, various foreign currencies, 1 kilogram of mescaline, over 60 kilograms of ayahuasca, other psychoactive substances, and consumption instruments.

Additionally, tech equipment, mobile phones, drones, and a luxury vehicle were confiscated. Researchers note that such psychoactives are often used in ‘new age sects’ ceremonies, manipulating attendees into adopting specific social and individual behaviours.

This significant operation has exposed and halted a widespread network exploiting spiritual practices for criminal gain.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.