VIGO, Spain – Spanish police arrested on Friday a further suspect linked to a drug-trafficking ring from the country’s northwest, raising the total number of detainees to 27, during an ongoing police operation against the smuggling of cocaine into Europe, official sources told EFE.
The man, identified by the initials RDM, is a suspected member of the so-called “Charlines Clan” – allegedly dedicated to the introduction of cocaine through Atlantic Ocean ports in the northwestern region of Galicia – which police say has now been dismantled over the course of the year-old police operation.
“One of the top criminal drug-smuggling organizations operating off the Galician coasts has been dismantled,” read a statement by Spain’s national police. “Those arrested include organizers, sea smugglers and land-based distributors.”
It added that the arrests included veteran, high-ranking bosses “linked to drug-smuggling activities over the past 40 years.”
The network planned to introduce their stash using fishing boats that often cast their nets close to the border demarcating the split between Spanish and Portuguese territorial waters.
Early on Friday, the first batch of detainees arrived in two police wagons to a local court in the city of Vigo to appear in front of the judge overseeing the police operation.
The judge had already interrogated, via a Spanish patrol boat’s satellite phone, four crew members on board a fishing boat transporting cocaine that was intercepted by Spanish police near the Azores Islands (Portugal).
Three more sailors were arrested on a fishing boat allegedly planning to unload cocaine for the drug haul’s final leg to a port in the province of A Coruña.
The other arrests, some of them of important leaders with no prior convictions, took place across Galicia.
Police have confirmed that this is one of the biggest anti-drug operations ever undertaken in Spain.