19 held after cops raid ‘drug empire’ in Almeria

©National Police

NINETEEN people have been held as police swooped on an Almeria drug empire. The gang is accused of trafficking cocaine and cannabis in southern Spain.

Large quantities of cocaine were bought in Marbella on the Costa del Sol before being smuggled to Almeria using ‘shuttle’ cars fitted with false compartments.

Measures were also taken to avoid police checkpoints, including the use of ‘spotter’ vehicles travelling ahead of the drugs shipments.

The ringleader was in charge of this part of the operation, while his son was responsible for growing and preparing cannabis for sale.

Investigators raided 17 properties in the wake of a six-month probe in a joint operation by detectives from Almeria, Malaga and Lorca, Murcia.

Three properties were searched in Aguadulce, one in Albox, 12 in Almeria City and one in Marbella.

Almost 1.5 kilos of cocaine, two kilos of hashish, 900 cannabis plants, two guns with ammunition, €120,000 in cash, 11 high-end vehicles and a number of mobile phones were seized during the crackdown.

The cannabis was being grown on four hidden plantations in the Pescaderia district of Almeria City which were powered via an illegal connection to the national grid.

Gang bosses reportedly led negotiations with potential buyers. Ten of those arrested have been remanded in custody, after being charged with public health crimes, membership of a criminal organisation, possession of illegal weapons and stealing electricity.