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Spanish police dismantle traffickers' sophisticated surveillance network

Spain’s Policia Nacional has released remarkable footage of a sophisticated radar surveillance system set up by drug traffickers in beachfront properties in La Linea.

Officers raided two houses fitted with radars and high-tech antennae used by criminal networks to monitor law enforcement vessels and helicopters, enabling them to sneak drug shipments across the Strait of Gibraltar undetected.


“The infrastructure allowed them to locate patrol boats and helicopters and provide real-time information to boats loaded with hashish trying to unload on Cadiz beaches,” police said in a detailed statement.

Police searched 16 properties in La Linea and a further two in Manilva and Estepona, seizing firearms, three rigid-hulled inflatable boats, several vehicles and over 50,000 euros in cash.

A total of 10 persons were arrested in La Linea.

Police said they had had been investigating the “perfectly structured” network since late 2016, watching how different parts of the criminal hierarchy took on separate roles in the transportation of drugs from Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain.

Shipments were ferried across clandestinely and stored in “nurseries” for onward distribution.

The entire network relied on a sophisticated system used by the smugglers to alert crews as to the location of law enforcement vessels not just in Spain but in British waters around Gibraltar too.

Images released by the Policia Nacional show radar screens capable of monitoring vessel movements on both sides of the Rock.


“The criminal organisation had a surveillance infrastructure with two radars installed on the top floors of two shoreline properties in La Linea,” the Policia Nacional statement said.

“These radars were used to control the movements of law enforcement patrol boats when drug vessels were coming in to unload on the beach, thereby guaranteeing the success of the smuggling operation.”

“The unusual aspect of these radars was that, depending on where they were pointing, they could detect movements not just on land and at sea but also in the air to detect the movement of law enforcement helicopters.”

The radars were also used to position a network of human spotters to further enhance the ability of smugglers to monitor patrol boats and police personnel.

Earlier phases of the long-running investigation have led to the seizure of around 70 tonnes of cannabis resin over the past year and 18 firearms, police said.

The investigation remains open.

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