SHARE
COPY LINK

CRIME

Spain seizes first underwater drug smuggling drones

Spanish police said on Monday they had seized six underwater drones capable of transporting large quantities of drugs from Morocco to Spain and broken up a gang suspected of manufacturing them.

submarine drones drugs spain
Three of the drones were due to be delivered to a French drug ring to "transport significant amounts of cocaine", the statement said. Screenshot: National Police

Officers seized six of the so-called “drone submarines” and arrested eight people in raids carried out in Barcelona and the southern provinces of Málaga and Cádiz, a police statement said.

Police said it was the first time they had seized such devices, which are officially known as unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).

They believe the gang made underwater drones “capable of bearing big loads” for use by other criminal organisations.

“These devices could allow drug traffickers to transport large quantities of narcotics remotely across the Strait of Gibraltar,” the statement said.

The drones had up to 12 motors each and a range of 30 kilometres (18 miles).

That is easily enough to manage an underwater crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar separating Spain from Morocco which measures just 15 kilometres (nine miles).

Three of the drones were due to be delivered to a French drug ring to “transport significant amounts of cocaine”, the statement said.

The gang also built false bottoms into vehicles to allow gangs to smuggle drugs, as well as “unmanned semi-submersible vessels” that could carry up to 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds) of product.

Their customers included criminal gangs in Denmark, France, Italy and Spain, police said.

Spain’s physical proximity to Morocco, a major hashish producer, and its close ties with former colonies in Latin America, a major cocaine producing region, have made it a key entry point for drugs bound for Europe.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

BARCELONA ATTACKS

Spain marks five years since Catalonia jihadist attacks

A ceremony was held in Barcelona on Wednesday in memory of 16 people killed in jihadist attacks in the Catalan city and a nearby resort exactly five years ago.

Spain marks five years since Catalonia jihadist attacks

Dozens of people observed a minute’s silence on the tree-lined Las Ramblas boulevard where on August 17, 2017 a van mowed down pedestrians, leaving a trail of death.

As a cellist played a traditional Catalan song, relatives of the victims and officials laid white carnations in front of a memorial plaque marking the spot where the van came to a halt.

Among those attending were Transport Minister Raquel Sánchez, Culture minister Miquel Iceta, the president of the regional government of Catalonia Pere Aragonès, and Barcelona mayor Ada Colau.

“This date used to be just another day in the calendar. Now on August 17 you always wake up with a knot in your stomach,” Colau told public television TVE just before the ceremony.

The attacks, which also left 140 people injured, were carried out by a cell made up mostly of young people of Moroccan descent who grew up in Catalonia. They were claimed by the Islamic State group.

The first attack took place on the famous Ramblas avenue in Barcelona, where a truck rammed into passers-by, killing 14 people, mostly foreign tourists. The youngest victim was a three-year-old boy.

Relatives of victims hold white carnation flowers to place at Las Ramblas Boulevard in Barcelona, on August 17, 2022, as the city marks the fifth anniversary of the 2017 jihadist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils that left 16 people dead. – A van rammed into crowds on Las Ramblas Boulevard in the heart of Barcelona on August 17, 2017, igniting four days of terror. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

The driver, who had killed a 30-year-old man to steal his car while fleeing, was shot dead a few days later by the police.

Several hours after the first attack, five accomplices drove into more pedestrians and stabbed a woman who later died of her injuries in Cambrils, a seaside resort 100 kilometres (60 miles) to the south. All five suspects were shot dead by police.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Barcelona and Cambrils had “suffered hate and terror in their streets”.

“Five years later, we remember the victims of these attacks with our sights set on continuing to build a future of peace,” he said.

A Spanish court in 2021 found three men guilty of assisting the perpetrators of the attacks and sentenced them to eight, 46 and 53 years in jail.

But last month, a court reduced by 10 years the sentences of the two men who had received the longest jail terms. The third convict was granted parole in September 2021.

A handful of protesters who accuse the Spanish government of being behind the attacks jeered and chanted during the moment of silence and held up signs that read: “We demand the truth”.

The protest was called by several small Catalan separatist groups and some of the signs held up by the participants had Catalan separatist flags.

SHOW COMMENTS