Police and Customs in £12m cannabis haul
Law enforcement agencies in Gibraltar recovered 2.4 tonnes of cannabis resin worth nearly £12m on Monday, clear evidence of the scale of drug trafficking across the Strait of Gibraltar.
A total of 79 bales were recovered from the sea in the early hours of Monday morning, according to a statement issued by the Royal Gibraltar Police, HM Customs and the Gibraltar Defence Police.
The haul is the latest in a string of such seizures of drugs in this region.
Last week, Guardia Civil officers seized 6.5 tonnes of cannabis resin in three separate operations in the Bay of Gibraltar and the Campo. On Sunday, Guardia Civil officers seized a further 900 kilos following a car chase in La Linea.
The Strait of Gibraltar is the main entry point into Europe for drugs from Morocco, which according to the UN is the world’s largest producer of cannabis resin.
The UN’s World Drugs Report 2016 estimates that in 2013 – the latest available data – there were 42,196 harvestable hectares of cannabis plants in Morocco, producing a harvest of some 700 tonnes of cannabis resin.
The statement from the Gibraltar law enforcement agencies said the drugs recovered here were discovered after the Customs vessel HMC Searcher spotted a bale floating in the sea about a mile west off Europa Point.
“On approaching the bale the Customs crew detected a suspect rigid-hulled inflatable boat engaged in attempting to retrieve other bales from the sea,” the statement said.
“On being challenged by the Customs vessel the suspect RHIB made off at speed out of British Gibraltar territorial waters.”
Another Customs vessel, HMC Seeker, arrived at the scene and identified numerous bales after searching the area.
They were joined by vessels from the RGP and the GDP and a total of 2.37 tonnes of drugs were recovered, with an estimated street value of £11.85m, according to the statement.
In La Linea, Guardia Civil officers seized 900 kilos of cannabis resin on Sunday following a dramatic high-speed car chase that ended in a crash.
Officers moved in after the SIVE coastal surveillance network detected drugs being unloaded from a vessel on the Tonelero beach in La Linea.
As they approached the scene, the officers spotted a Lexus 570 speeding away from the area.
They chased it through the city, sometimes in the wrong direction through one-way streets, until the vehicle finally crashed into a parked car.
The driver managed to escape on foot but the vehicle and the drugs were seized.
The Lexus had been stolen in Tarragona and there were 36 bales of cannabis resin inside.