In a major narcotic bust, Spanish authorities have intercepted a shipment of 720 kilograms of cocaine camouflaged within scrap metal originating from Costa Rica. This operation, resulting in eight arrests, took place late last September at the southern port of Málaga.
The joint task force, which comprised the Spanish Police, Civil Guard, and the Customs Surveillance of the Spanish Tax Agency, discovered the drugs meticulously packed in 1.2-kilogram rectangular parcels.
They were ingeniously hidden in a massive metal box, surrounded by more than 19 tons of aluminum waste, as revealed in an official security forces statement.
Sources indicated that several individuals taken into custody have previously been associated with organized crime rings and drug trafficking circuits. Notably, two of the arrestees had faced convictions in 2018 for analogous operations at the southern port of Algeciras.
Initial investigations were triggered by intelligence suggesting that an organization was smuggling substantial amounts of cocaine into Spain. This was done conceivably through a Costa Rican exporting entity previously under scrutiny for potential ties to container-based drug trafficking.
The drug trail didn’t end in Málaga. After its departure, the implicated container was rerouted to a secluded wooded zone in the province of Cádiz, known for its surveillance challenges. The subsequent arrests were executed in this region.
During associated residential searches, a myriad of items were confiscated, including cash, a Civil Guard attire, a frequency detection device, luxury timepieces, IT equipment, and potentially incriminating documents.
This case underscores an ongoing trend in Spain, where the country has repeatedly witnessed cocaine consignments concealed in containers of various goods, notably fruit and scrap metal, shipped predominantly from the Americas.
To illustrate, just a week prior, another operation unearthed 210 kilograms of cocaine within scrap metal shipped from Panama, leading to seven individuals being detained.
Although Costa Rica has increased its efforts to prevent criminals from smuggling drugs through shipments, the problem persists and several shipments containing these illegal substances have been found in different European ports.