Drug crackdown in Spain sees millions of euros’ worth of criminal assets seized with help of Europol

13 August 2020
Press Release
Press Release/News

This News/Press release is about Drug Trafficking

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Over 8 million of euros worth of criminal assets have been seized and 75 suspects arrested during a crackdown on an international marijuana trafficking network operating from the Spanish province of Granada.

Code-named ‘Vangelis’, this operation was led by the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) who worked closely together on this case with the Polish Police Central Bureau of Investigation (Centralne Biuro Śledecze Policji) and Europol.

During the campaign, the Spanish investigators carried out 24 search warrants and found 2 690 cannabis plants with a street value of over €3 million. A total of 36 properties and 50 vehicles, valued at over €8 million, as well as close to €200 000 in cash were seized. A further €370 000 have been blocked on the criminals’ bank accounts.

69 Spanish nationals and 6 Polish nationals have been brought to justice to answer to drugs trafficking and money laundering charges.

A sophisticated multinational criminal enterprise

This crackdown is the culmination of an investigation which began in November 2017 after the criminal organisation came on the radar of Spanish law enforcement for producing and distributing large quantities of marijuana destined for the European market.

Led from Poland, this criminal network was hierarchically structured with most of its members  located in Granada, Spain, each of them with a specific role: there was a network of growers who supplied the organisation with marijuana, a network of members who collected the harvested marijuana for further dispatch, a specific branch dedicated to the packaging and storage of the drugs and another such branch responsible for the transportation and further distribution on the European market.

The marijuana had to pass a quality control before it was loaded onto lorries for further international distribution, a task which was carried out by one of the leaders of the criminal organisation.

Hitting the criminals in the pocket

The final blow was delivered in the shape of a financial investigation which saw the Spanish Guardia Civil and Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre working closely together to obtain enough evidence to link this criminal organisation to money laundering offenses.

As a result, over €8 million worth of criminal assets were seized, and €370 000 frozen on bank accounts belonging to the criminals. 

In 2010 the European Union set up a four-year Policy Cycle to ensure greater continuity in the fight against serious international and organised crime. In March 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU Policy Cycle for organised and serious international crime for the 2018 - 2021 period. This multiannual Policy Cycle aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU in a coherent and methodological manner. This is achieved by improving and strengthening cooperation between the relevant services of EU Member States, institutions and agencies, as well as non-EU countries and organisations, including the private sector where relevant. Criminal finances and money laundering is one of the priorities for the Policy Cycle.