Spanish police have made 89 arrests as part of an investigation into a smuggling operation that transported migrants and hashish from North Africa to Spain.
The network allegedly used speedboats to carry people and drugs across the Strait of Gibraltar from Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the coast of North Africa, according to the Spanish Civil Guard.
Investigators found evidence that 11 fast boats were used to transport 269 people and more than 10,000 kilos of hashish, authorities said. On the coasts of Cádiz and Málaga where the drugs and migrants landed, the gang had positioned lookout points where members were stationed to warn of the presence of the security forces.
In addition, they had a sophisticated radar system deployed on the Costa del Sol, located on high floors of apartment blocks to follow the movement of naval vessels.
Both the migrants and hashish were landed on the coast of Cádiz and Málaga.
Migrants paid about five thousand euros per ‘ticket’ and when they arrived in Spain they were picked up in cars and not released until their families had paid the fee to the smugglers.
During the investigation, the police confiscated more than 10 tons of hashish, 26 vessels, 29 vehicles, 250,000 euros in cash and 12 firearms.
The suspects are facing a range of charges including drug trafficking, belonging to a criminal organisation, against the rights of foreign citizens, contraband, theft and theft of motor vehicle use, falsification of documents and illegal possession of weapons.
Ceuta is one of the two Spanish enclaves in North Africa and just 17 miles across the strait of Gibraltar from the south of Spain, making it an important entry point for illegal drugs and migrants into Europe.