Malaga. Spain. During the investigation period, more than 30 tonnes of cocaine have been seized in various European ports and it is estimated that this macro criminal organisation was behind a third of the total cocaine market in Europe.
6 high-value targets (HVTs) have been arrested simultaneously in Dubai, considered to be the “drug lords” who have been based in the emirate for years.
In Spain, under the name of OPERATION FAUKAS, searches and arrests have been carried out in the provinces of Malaga, Madrid and Barcelona.
The Guardia Civil, within the framework of the international police operation called DESERT LIGHT, coordinated by EUROPOL and in which police agencies from the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Dubai have also participated, has managed to dismantle a super cartel that controlled a large part of the cocaine market in Europe.
This macro criminal organisation had established its base in these countries, coinciding with the location of the most important European ports considered to be the main gateway for the entry of narcotics into the European continent.
From the city-emirate of Dubai, the leaders of this mega-cartel, known as the “Drug Lords” to the participants in this operation, controlled and directed the criminal activities of the different cells, under the conviction of being in a sanctuary where they felt untouchable and which in turn allowed them to maintain a high standard of living.
In the course of the investigation, more than 30 tonnes of cocaine have been seized, with the intention of flooding Europe with this drug, which, according to EUROPOL estimates, could account for a third of the total market, making the cartel a real whale in the world of global drug trafficking.
Internationally coordinated police actions
Between 8 and 19 November, raids or joint actions were carried out simultaneously in several European countries and Dubai with the aim of dismantling the logistical structure, represented by the criminal groups responsible for bringing the drugs into each country, as well as to break up the organisation, in the figure of these “drug lords” based in the emirate.
As a result of these actions, 49 people have been arrested in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Dubai, 7 of whom are considered High-Value Targets (HVT), according to the EUROPOL agency, with the participation of police agencies from the USA (DEA), the United Kingdom (NCA) and Bulgaria.
#OperationFAUKAS in Spain
As far as Spain is concerned, the Guardia Civil has named this investigation Operation FAUKAS, and it has been carried out by the Central Anti-Drugs Group of the Central Operational Unit (UCO), with simultaneous actions having been carried out in Malaga, Madrid and Barcelona on the 8th of this month. These have resulted in the arrest of 15 people, including 3 HTVs for EUROPOL, 2 of them in Dubai and another in Malaga, all in more than 21 searches of homes and companies related to this criminal organisation.
Operation FAUKAS began with the seizure, by the Guardia Civil, of a container in the Port of Valencia in March 2020, through which they intended to introduce 698 kg of cocaine, without any arrest or responsibility at that time.
This led to an extensive exchange of information, under the auspices of EUROPOL, with numerous police agencies in other countries, which bore fruit in the identification of the persons responsible for the introduction of the container, as well as its “contamination” at source, in Panama.
In this way, during the course of the investigation, it became clear how a criminal organisation had been established in Spain that was introducing containers with cocaine inside through the Ports of Barcelona, Valencia and Algeciras, and which in turn had set up a complex corporate network of real estate investments in the Costa del Sol area with the aim of laundering the profits obtained from drug trafficking.
Roles of the organisation in Spain
It has been possible to identify the leader of this organisation, a British citizen linked to the Costa del Sol who had to leave Spain due to a kidnapping attempt against him, moving to Dubai, from where he continued to direct and coordinate the criminal activities of the organisation while maintaining contacts and drug trafficking business with the rest of the “Drug Lords” based in this city-emirate.
In the same way, the Guardia Civil managed to identify the supplier of the drugs at source, who turned out to be a Panamanian citizen also based in Dubai, who was responsible for bringing the drugs into the Port of Manzanillo (Panama) and who also maintained contacts with the rest of the drug barons in the emirate.
This criminal organisation based in Spain had two clearly differentiated structures, one in charge of extracting the drugs in commercial seaports and the other responsible for money laundering through Real Estate companies.
The first one would be located between the provinces of Barcelona and Malaga, having a direct influence on the Port of Barcelona and being made up of two Bulgarian nationals, one of them considered as HVT for EUROPOL, and three Spanish nationals, one of them being a worker in the port of Barcelona, responsible for the entry and exit of vehicles.
The other part would be made up of people of great trust of the leader of the criminal organisation, located on the Costa del Sol, the nerve centre of their financial activities, from where they would have acquired movable and immovable property and shares worth some 24 million euros, thus integrating them into the legal economic circuit.
During the searches, elements were found that link the suspects to the criminal activity, as well as more than 500,000 € in cash, 3 handguns with ammunition and luxury items including high-end vehicles, some of them with prices close to 300,000 €.
“There will be no safe place for drug lords”.
With this operation, a historic milestone has been reached in the fight against global drug trafficking and the action carried out in Dubai is unprecedented, culminating in the simultaneous arrest of 6 HVTs who were taking refuge in this emirate with the conviction of feeling safe from possible police action.
For months, the Guardia Civil has been working jointly and in coordination with the Dubai Police, within the framework of Operation FAUKAS, holding regular meetings in Spain and Dubai with the main officials of the Dubai authorities. This has strengthened the bond between the two police forces, which has enabled successful police actions to be carried out in recent months.
This international effort by all the agencies involved sends a strong message to criminal organisations that no place will be safe for those who try to evade justice.