Police and customs in southern Spain have seized the biggest haul of cocaine ever found in containers in Europe – much of it believed to have been headed for the UK.
Nearly nine metric tonnes of the drug were hidden amongst crates of bananas in three containers which arrived from Colombia at Algeciras, the port across the bay from Gibraltar, at the weekend.
A total of six people have been arrested in three different places – three in Malaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol, two in Lyons in France and one in Algeciras, Spain’s Interior Minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, revealed at a press conference in the port city yesterday.
The containers were opened and searched on Sunday, said the Minister, who was accompanied by the Director General of Spain’s National Police, German Lopez, and the local head of Spanish customs.
The Spanish Home Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido (centre) stands next to the enormous cocaine shipment
The drugs were hidden amongst boxes of bananas in a shipping container and packed tightly in boxes
A total of 8,740 kilos of cocaine were found amongst 1,080 crates of bananas.
The Minister said: ‘This operation has brought about the biggest seizure of cocaine from containers up until this moment in Europe.’
The haul, worth some £437 million at street level, was destined to be distributed in various parts of Europe. A British expert with more than 30 years experience in counter-drugs operations said in Madrid yesterday (WED): ‘There is no way that this massive consignment would have all been for Spain. It would have been headed to various parts of Europe had it not been found and much of it would have ended-up in the UK.
We estimate that when these large quantities get through about 40 percent goes on the British market.’
The operation is still open, said Senor Zoid, and more arrests may follow.
With 101 million tons of shipments handled in 2017, Algeciras is Spain’s busiest cargo port and a main entry for cocaine into Europe.
In January, authorities seized six tons of cocaine there.
At least six people have been arrested so far in connection with the shipment – with Spanish police saying more will follow
The nine-tonne haul is worth more than £437 million at street level and is Europe’s biggest ever bust