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Unraveling the Marbella-Paris Cocaine Syndicate: A Glimpse into the High-Stakes

December 31, 2023
Unraveling the Marbella-Paris Cocaine Syndicate: A Glimpse into the High-Stakes - cocaine gang busted - Marbella News Crime -

International Cocaine Trafficking Ring Busted

An international criminal gang involved in shipping cocaine to Europe using sailing boats has been dismantled. The gang was headquartered in Marbella and Paris, and the narcotics were distributed in the Spanish provinces of Cadiz and Malaga, as well as in the Ile de France region, which includes Paris.

Two Branches of the Network Uncovered

Investigations revealed that the network operated through two branches. The French branch was responsible for the distribution of the drugs, while the Spanish branch maintained contacts with cocaine suppliers in Colombia and Venezuela.

Arrests and Seizures

The operation culminated in the arrest of 15 individuals and the confiscation of over 1,000 kilos of cocaine, €797,950 in cash, two yachts, seven vehicles, and three firearms. The gang, based in Marbella and Paris, transported the drugs from the Caribbean to Europe on sailing boats, with one of the organization’s members acting as the captain.

Investigation Traces Back to Summer 2021

The investigation was initiated in the summer of 2021 when the Guardia Civil noticed a sailing boat arriving in El Puerto de Santa Maria (Cadiz), captained by a French citizen suspected of involvement in cocaine trafficking. Further investigations revealed connections between him and a second French citizen under investigation by the National Police for alleged links to international drug trafficking.

Collaboration with French Anti-Narcotics Office

The two organizations collaborated for the investigation and sought assistance from the French OFAST (Anti-Narcotics Office). The skipper of the yacht was known for his connections to the illegal drug trade, having been rescued in the English Channel in 2010 after the yacht he was sailing single-handedly sank. Police at the time suspected it had been carrying drugs.

Links to Marseille Mafia

As the investigation progressed, agents observed numerous meetings between the two men, both in Spain and in France. An increase in meetings between the suspects and several French nationals based in Marbella, some of whom were known members of the Marseille mafia, was also noted.

Preparations for a Major Operation

In autumn 2022, investigators observed that the organization was accelerating preparations for what appeared to be a major operation. The first of those investigated, based in Paris, purchased, repaired, and outfitted a sailing boat in Martinique for his trans-Atlantic trip.

Interception and Boarding of the Yacht

Despite poor sea conditions, at the end of December last year, the Spanish Navy intercepted and boarded the yacht west of the Azores. They discovered 25 bales of cocaine, weighing a total of 740 kilos. Two people were arrested: the captain and a Venezuelan man who acted as a ‘notary’ and had boarded the yacht with the cocaine on Isla Margarita.

Coordinated Raids in Spain and France

Following the interception, police in Spain and France conducted coordinated raids. In Spain, they seized €52,450 in cash, two firearms, two satellite navigation devices for boats, vehicles, and multiple mobile phones. In France, a flat in Paris was discovered to be a narcotics warehouse where another 345 kilos of cocaine and a firearm were found. Additionally, €745,500 were seized in other searches.

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