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Spanish Police Bust Smuggling Ring Run by Ex-Royal Navy Sailor

policia nacional
Spanish police team breaks down a door during a multi-site raid on the smuggling ring's operations (Policia Nacional)

Published May 24, 2021 2:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

Spanish police have arrested ten people and impounded several boats in connection with a drug-running scheme allegedly headed by an ex-Royal Navy sailor. 

Spain's National Police, National Crime Agency and Tax Agency have been investigating the ring since last year. The consortium was allegedly centered on the activities of a UK citizen who resided in Cádiz - a Royal Navy veteran with extensive seafaring knowledge. He has been under surveillance for years due to his alleged ties to known international trafficking figures and criminal organizations. His identity and former rank were not disclosed.

The ring used several front companies that were set up for the commercial sale and rental of boats, which were used in clandestine smuggling operations. Additional enterprises were allegedly used for laundering the proceeds of the operation. 

The ring's activities were characterized by a "high degree of professionalism" and strict operational security, Spanish police said in a statement. Its members adhered to rigorous security protocols in their communciations and movements, particularly before and during meetings, which were held in remote sites and would often be relocated while in progress. 

Last year, the police intercepted two of the group's hashish shipments, a 600-kilo haul in August and a one-tonne haul in November. Last week, officials followed up with raids in the city of Ceuta and the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga. They swept up ten suspects, along with about $7,000 in cash, a taser gun, knives, a drone and a fake pistol. In addition, they seized five luxury vehicles, two motor yachts and one sailboat.