Pedalling drugs hidden in fruit, vegetable and pistachio shipments

Spanish drug busts target Albanian marihuana gangs

Spanish police officials have arrested 107 people and raided 51 cannabis farms during a crackdown on a drug operation run by an Albanian gang. Europol has revealed it collaborated with detectives from Spain, Albania and Germany on the series of busts in July across 42 locations in four cities on Spain’s east coast.

They were monitoring a “mainly Albanian-speaking” organized crime network, which included Albanian, Spanish, Greek and Slovak nationals. It is suspected of cultivating and processing the weed in Spain before distributing it in lorries, concealed in legal cargo such as pistachios, vegetables and fruit, to countries around Europe.

The raids are part of a long running battle between police and pan-European cannabis production networks also involved in money laundering and trafficking in Spain. Between August 2019 and October 2020, the Spanish police’s Operation Verde uncovered almost half a million cannabis plants in 800 grow operations, also finding €7.6 million in cash.

The Catalonia region has been named “Europe’s marijuana nursery” by local drug cops, where it is estimated 70 percent of organized crime groups have a stake in the operations. Officials fear drug money is so endemic on the east coast, it could turn the region into a narco-economy.


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