An international police operation seized almost one tonne of cocaine

Led by the Spanish Civil Guard and coordinated by Europol, almost one tonne of cocaine and 160 kg of hashish have been seized in an international police operation. The huge consignment of cocaine was diluted in 13 tonnes of palm oil that had been shipped from Colombia, via Antwerp in Belgium, before being finally seized in Albania.

The "Operation Salonica" started in October 2010 with 1 kg of cocaine and 29 kg of cannabis seized, and the branch specialised in cultivating and distributing cannabis was identified and dismantled. Several cannabis greenhouses were also dismantled and six members of the organisation were arrested. At that stage, the Judicial Police Task Force of the Spanish Civil Guard of Tarragona learned of a criminal group dealing drugs on an international level.

As a result of investigations, it was confirmed that the organisation had a hierarchical structure with the head leading, directing and coordinating several branches dealing in various narcotics. One of the branches was in charge of cultivating cannabis, another one dealt with the supply of hashish from different sources. Furthermore, the network worked with a drugs cartel to obtain cocaine on a large scale and had an infrastructure in several European countries for distributing the drugs.

The Spanish authorities together with Europol worked in the “Operation Salonica” with law enforcement authorities in seven countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia. The operation has resulted in the dismantling of a criminal organisation made up of Spanish, Moroccan and Albanian citizens who were importing and distributing large consignments of Colombian cocaine and Moroccan hashish in Europe. In total, 22 members of an international criminal drugs network, some of them key "head" figures, have been arrested under this operation. As well as providing key operational analysis, Europol played a significant role in coordinating the operation and facilitating the controlled delivery.