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Gang used helicopters to smuggle drugs from Morocco

A Ukrainian pilot was among 20 people arrested by the Guardia Civil for smuggling cannabis resin from Morocco to Spain using helicopters.

The arrests came after officers tracked an unlit helicopter flying low over ground on a night time run from Morocco to a farmhouse in the Alcornocales nature park.

Officers moved in and seized the aircraft and its Ukrainian pilot, together with two other men and 615 kilos of cannabis resin.

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Seven further searches were carried out in properties in the provinces of Cádiz, Málaga and Seville and another 17 people arrested.

Officers also seized a loaded handgun, seven vehicles and a wrecked helicopter.

According to the Guardia Civil, the Ukrainian pilot had extensive experience flying fire-fighting operations in his home country.

The gang used small Alouette II helicopters that had been modified to carry up to 600 kilograms of drugs on each flight.

This is not the first time that the Guardia Civil has intercepted drug smugglers using helicopters or planes to transport drugs from Morocco to Spain.

Since 2013, a total of 12 aircraft and nearly four tonnes have been seized, with some 30 people arrested.

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