Spain: Authorities seize 290 kilograms of cocaine smuggled in Brazilian oranges

Custom authorities were suspicious of two containers of Brazilian oranges that arrived at the Port of Algeciras (Cadiz) as they were not suitable for commercialization. The agents confirmed their suspicions as soon as they inspected the merchandise. Hidden among the citrus were 290 kilos of cocaine, distributed in 250 packages. The investigation, carried out jointly by the National Police Corps and the Tax Agency, has made it possible to dismantle the criminal organization that transported the drug to Spain and arrest eight suspects in Murcia.

According to a statement from the police, the authorities were investigating this criminal organization before they discovery of the drug. Agents of the Udyco (Drug and Organized Crime Unit) in Madrid and in Algeciras began investigating some suspicious companies that, apparently, were dedicated to the import of fruit from South America (in particular citrus products). The investigators suspected that these companies were, in fact, the cover used "by different drug trafficking criminal organizations to introduce considerable amounts of cocaine in the country," according to police sources.

As a result, police agents and the Customs Surveillance of the Tax Agency in Algeciras worked together in this investigation. Once both teams started analyzing the documentation of containers from South America to Algeciras, they were able to identify two shipments on hold, pending the results of the laboratory analysis of the Health authorities in Algeciras.

The investigators were suspicious of the cargo because the declared goods of the two containers were oranges which, according to the evidence, were not suitable for marketing. Despite this, the importing company continued to carry out the normal procedure to remove the merchandise from the port, which made no sense as the cost of transporting the fruit from Brazil was going to be much higher than the benefits they could obtain. Apparently, "the business was totally ruinous and lacking any commercial logic," the police stated.

As a result, the agents decided to inspect the cargo carefully and discovered that the oranges were only a cover to smuggle cocaine into Spain. In fact, the drug was hidden inside the boxes that contained the stated cargo. Authorities discovered up to 250 packages with a total weight of approximately 290 kilos. All the packages were impregnated of a yellow substance, apparently mustard, so as to camouflage them in case of inspection.

The discovery of cocaine has made it possible for the authorities to arrest eight people in Blanca (Murcia). Seven of these people are Spanish and one is of Senegalese origin. The police and the Tax Agency believe that the detainees were in charge of receiving the merchandise in Spain. The eight suspects are now in the custody of the Court of Cieza (Murcia). According to the police, they dismantled "one of the country's most active organizations in the import, transportation and distribution of drugs."

This is not the first time that the police and Customs agents discover containers with drugs inside in the Port of Algeciras, one of the ports with the highest merchandise activity in Spain. During the past year, in Andalusia, the Tax Agency seized more than 3,600 kilos of cocaine, almost a third of the national total and three times what was seized in 2015. Usually, the mafias hide the drug inside legal transports of goods. To do this, they leave the stored packages just at the entrance of the container so that, once they arrive in Spain, a third party can break the seal, remove the drug and replace the seal with a new forged one.

Source: El País

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