Two major international drug raids in Barcelona

Police detain one of most wanted criminals and dismantle group with ties to Mexican cartel

Spanish police officers enter a shop in Barcelona's drug raid on December 14, 2021 (by Blanca Blay)
Spanish police officers enter a shop in Barcelona's drug raid on December 14, 2021 (by Blanca Blay) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 14, 2021 05:01 PM

Many Barcelona residents awoke to the sound of helicopters early on Tuesday morning. Hours later, Spanish Guardia Civil police confirmed that a major drug raid was underway and that one of the most wanted international criminals had been detained. 

Another 14 people were detained, some in Barcelona but others in the Spanish cities of Cádiz, in the south, and Vigo, in the north-west. In the Catalan capital, the police operation took place in the Poble-Sec and Sant Antoni neighborhoods. 

According to local newspaper El Periódico, the main suspect who has been arrested was wanted by several European police forces. The drug dealer was in charge of a gang that trafficked cocaine from the Americas as well as hashish from northern Africa. The group ran several other side businesses, such as an ice-cream shop, to launder money.

Over 1,300 tonnes of cocaine confiscated in seperate raid

Since 2017, international police had been investigating a drug gang that used Barcelona’s port to bring cocaine and methamphetamine into Europe. Drugs from Mexico were hidden inside concrete blocks. Police say that this was the main method to enter these kinds of drugs into Europe via Barcelona’s port.

The European group, based in Spain and the Netherlands, had ties with Beltrán Leyva’s Mexican cartel. Police confirmed 16 people were detained. 

Since the beginning of the sting, police have confiscated 2,549 kg of methamphetamine, 1.3 tonnes of cocaine, and over 17,000 liters of chemical products used to make drugs. 

The investigation started when suspicions arose regarding the possibility that Mexican cartels were using an exporting company from there to smuggle drugs into Europe via Spain. Some clues pointed towards Mexicans wanting to sell crystal meth, made in Mexican forests, to Europe.