MALAGA, Spain – Spanish National police arrested five suspects in Malaga on Thursday after discovering over half a ton of cocaine, 130 kilograms (287 pounds) of hashish and 74 kilograms of marihuana stashed inside blocks of frozen food they planned to be smuggled into the Netherlands by road transport.
The five arrested, four Netherlands citizens and a Spaniard, were based in Alhaurin de la Torre, in the southern province of Malaga, and operated by introducing drug packages into processed food such as hazelnut cream or liquid tofu which they later froze, re-packaged and loaded onto refrigerated trucks for distribution in Holland.
The Chief Inspector of the Drug and Organized Crime Unit (Udyco) in Spain’s Costa del Sol stated it was a new drug-smuggling method “very hard to detect by police sniffer dogs,” due to the food’s intense smell.
Malaga’s top police commander, Francisco Lopez Canedo, explained at a press conference the drug ring operated from a company set up in April by a Dutch citizen in Alhaurin de la Torre.
The company was under surveillance after police detected unusual activity, unrelated to its stated business.
Lopez Canedo also explained the arrested always used gloves when loading the frozen pallets “to avoid leaving any fingerprints” and used fake labels from a well-known Northern European food franchise.
The police operation remains active and Dutch police have launched a parallel operation to dismantle this drug ring in the Netherlands.
Apart from seizing drugs with an estimated street value of around 33 million euros ($38 million), police also impounded five vehicles, a heavy goods vehicle tractor cabin, a refrigerated trailer, computer equipment, mobile phones and over 11,000 euros in cash.
“Operation Cyprus tree” also raided four more premises, two in Benalmadena, one in Alhaurin el Grande and another in Mijas Costa, apart from the raided Alhaurin de la Torre premises.
Three of the four arrested Dutch citizens have a criminal record and have been remanded in prison accused of belonging to a criminal organization and drug trafficking while the Spanish citizen has been released.