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Police seize four tonnes of cocaine while smashing major drugs network in Spain

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major drugs network in Spain

Police in Spain have broken up a major drug trafficking network operating from the eastern region of the Iberian Peninsula in a Europol-supported operation involving law enforcement agencies from Colombia, France, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the UK.

An investigation into the gang’s activities was launched in 2018.

Operation Beautiful brought together agents from the seven countries, who were able to cooperate and exchange information as a result of Europol’s involvement in the effort.

The probe into the network’s drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy culminated in a series of coordinated raids last Thursday, during which more than 200 law enforcement officers carried out 13 house searches and arrested 42 suspected members of the gang.

Over the entire course of its duration, Operation Beautiful saw participating agencies detain 81 people and seize various items, including four tonnes of cocaine, €2 million ($2.18 million) in cash, three guns, jewellery, gems, high-end watches, 42 vehicles and a 25-metre yacht.

In addition, investigators taking part in the effort confiscated and froze properties estimated to be worth some €20 million, as well as the contents of 800 bank accounts.

So far, suspects held as a result of the operation have been charged with laundering over €7 million.

According to a statement from Europol, the gang used several methods to transport their illicit cargo, such as boats, lorries, trailers and cars that had be fitted out with custom hidden compartments and a clandestine drugs laboratory.

“The criminal network had different highly structured groups, specialised in various activities; such as a security team in charge of counter-surveillance, debt collections, extortion and [violent robberies between organised crime groups while impersonating police officers],” Europol said.

“The group was particularly violent and recently lost a member, murdered in the city of El Campello, Spain.

“The multiple arrests and seizures during the long investigation made the members bolder and more reckless.

“This led to the detection of money movements between the leaders of the organisation.”

Last week, the UK’s National Crime Agency revealed that two men from Liverpool had been convicted of attempting to smuggle cocaine estimated to be worth £60 million ($73.8 million) on a yacht travelling from South America to Britain.

Gary Swift, 53, and Scott Kilgour, 41, who were caught in August 2019 on board the yacht after a Border Force cutter was dispatched to intercept it approximately half a mile off the coast of Wales, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine at Swansea Crown Court on Thursday.

The pair will return to the same court for sentencing on 20 December.

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Spanish police and Europol help smash counterfeit currency networks in Madrid and Bogota

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counterfeit currency networks in Madrid and Bogota

Police in Spain have arrested eight people in a Europol-backed operation targeting a counterfeit currency network that investigators believe was responsible for the distribution of large quantities of bogus €50 ($56) banknotes in multiple locations across the country.

The suspects, the majority of whom are said to have been Senegalese nationals, were detained during raids on four properties in Madrid after law enforcement officers intercepted fake bills with a face value of €15,000 in a package addressed to the leader of the network.

Police said the contents of the package, which had arrived in Spain from Italy, was intended to be distributed primarily in Madrid and Barcelona, ​​where members of the organisation employed mules to inject the counterfeit currency into local economies via shops and other businesses.

The investigation that led to the arrest of the suspects was launched back in March when Spanish police learned that a Senegalese national was selling fake banknotes as well as dealing heroin, cocaine and cannabis.

Surveillance of the man led investigators to members of the network, who were found to have been making regular trips to Italy to arrange shipments of the fake banknotes they sold.

After realising the international nature of the conspiracy, police in Spain approached Europol and requested assistance with their investigation into the network’s activities.

In statement, Europol said: “Over 60 police officers were involved in the action day [that led to the suspects’ arrests].

“Europol deployed a mobile office to Madrid, allowing for the real-time crosschecking of the information against the agency’s databases.”

In a separate operation, Spanish police and their counterparts in Colombia have dismantled a clandestine counterfeit euro and US dollar banknote printing press in Bogota.

The investigation resulted in the arrest of two people and the seizure of fakes banknotes with a face value of $20,000, electronic devices, a printer, inks, paper and various other tools used during the counterfeiting process.

Colombian police requested technical and operational support from Spanish investigators and Europol once they had established the network was involved in the production of fake euro notes.

Back in April, police in Spain revealed they had broken up an organised crime gang behind a counterfeit note printing operation that made €7,500 every month.

Operation Malla resulted in the arrest of four people and the seizure of counterfeit currency worth €15,500 during a raid on a property in Tenerife that was used as a base by the gang behind the fake banknote plot.

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Britain’s ‘worst-ever’ paedophile found stabbed to death in his jail cell

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Britain’s ‘worst-ever’ paedophile found stabbed to death

A man routinely described as one of the UK’s worst-ever paedophiles has been stabbed to death in his jail cell, a spokesperson from the England and Wales Prison Service has confirmed.

Richard Huckle, 33, is said to have been killed by a fellow inmate using a “makeshift blade” more than three years after he was handed 22 life sentences for raping and sexually assaulting as many as 200 children from mainly disadvantaged communities in Southeast Asia while presenting himself as a Christian doing voluntary work in the region.

A fellow prisoner at HMP Full Sutton, which houses some of the UK’s most violent and dangerous inmates, is reported to have been isolated from other prisoners after Huckle’s blood-stained corpse was discovered slumped lifeless in his cell.

“HMP Full Sutton prisoner Richard Huckle died on 13 October,” a Prison Service spokesperson said.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further while a police investigation is ongoing.”

Police are now preparing to launch a murder investigation.

“Humberside Police are working closely with the Prison Service to investigate the death of an inmate and at this time we are treating the death as suspicious,” a force spokesperson said.

Jailing Huckle in June 2016, Judge Peter Rook QC ordered that he must serve a minimum term of 25 years to reflect “public abhorrence” at his “campaign of rape”, describing a “paedophile manual” Huckle wrote as a “truly evil document”.

Rook told Huckle it was “very rare indeed” that a judge had to sentence sexual offending by one person on such a scale.

During his trial at the Old Bailey in London, the court was told how police investigating Huckle discovered more than 20,000 indecent pictures and videos of his assaults on his computer.

Huckle is said to have attempted to monetise his abuse activity by charging fellow paedophiles for access to his catalogue of abuse material, which investigators discovered after he was arrested when returning to the UK in 2014 following a tip-off from Australian authorities.

After his arrest, investigators from the UK’s National Crime Agency described the scale of Huckle’s offending as “unprecedented and exceptional”.

Responding to concern that Malaysia failed to act on a tip-off about Huckle’s activities in 2014, Khalid Abu Bakar, the country’s police chief, said British detectives had been unable to provide their counterparts in Malaysia with enough information to allow them to investigate the prolific paedophile.

“That was our main obstacle when dealing with European countries because, by law, they are unable to cooperate with us because we carry out capital punishment,” Reuters quoted Khalid as saying.

“Now that this case is over, I hope that the British authorities will no longer hold back any information from us.”

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Police in Bolivia arrest Lima Lobo family drugs clan boss in Interpol-supported operation

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police in Bolivia arrest Lima Lobo family drugs clan boss

An Interpol-backed operation carried out by law enforcement authorities in Bolivia has resulted in the arrest of a major drug baron wanted by police in Brazil on an international warrant.

Investigators in the South American country detained Bolivian national Jesus Einar Lima Lobo Dorado, 52, at the end of last month in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra following a global effort to secure his capture.

Lima Lobo Dorado, who was being hunted internationally by Brazil after the issuing of an Interpol Red Notice, is said to be one of the senior leaders of the Lima Lobo family clan, which is known to have links with drug cartels in Colombia as well as in Brazil.

The Lima Lobo clan, which is thought to have been operating since the 1990s, is suspected of trafficking large quantities of drugs internationally across several countries in the Amazonian region via a network of private aircraft flown by members who hold pilot licenses.

The suspect was targeted by Interpol’s Fugitive Investigative Support unit after a meeting in Buenos Aires last year as part of its activities within Project EL PAcCTO (Europe-Latin America Assistance Programme against Transnational Organised Crime).

Commenting on the arrest, Interpol chief Jürgen Stock said: “Helping member countries bring fugitives to justice is at the heart of what Interpol is and does.

“International police cooperation is crucial because for criminals, there are no borders.”

“Without the Red Notice and our close collaboration with Bolivia and Brazil through EL PAcCTO, this fugitive would likely still be at large.”

Presenting Lima Lobo Dorado at a press conference after his arrest, police in Bolivia said his apprehension would help them dismantle an organised criminal network that has been trafficking drugs across South America for several generations of the family that runs it.

Lima Lobo Dorado was wanted by Brazilian authorities for smuggling 10kgs of cocaine into the country.

If found guilty, he could face 20 years behind bars.

As well as using private planes to traffic wholesale amounts of illegal drugs across South America, members of the Lima Lobo clan also operated across land and sea routes.

Bolivian police said they have now issued arrest warrants for other members of the clan, including Edward Lima Lobo, Oscar Eduardo Lima Lobo, Edwin Douglas Lima Lobo and Carmen Ibis Lima Lobo.

Interpol said its support of the EL PAcCTO project falls within an EU-funded three-year initiative intended to create a permanent mechanism for fugitive investigations across Latin America involving Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and Peru.

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