Spain seized more than nine tons of cocaine from Colombia on Tuesday with an estimated worth of $500 million, according to local media.
This is the biggest ever seizure of cocaine on Spanish territory, surpassing the previous record of five tonnes confiscated in the same port last year.
Five members of an international network have been arrested.
The operation was carried out in the Spanish port of Algeciras, after the Navy and the Prosecutor’s Office alerted the European authorities about the arrival of a container aboard a motorboat brandishing a Singaporean flag.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the AGC paramilitary group, or Gulf Clan as they are referred to by authorities, is responsible for the shipment.
“This is a very important blow to the Gulf Clan, because it proves they lack the capacity to put large shipments of cocaine in international markets with impunity,” the Minister of Defense, Luis Carlos Villegas, said Wednesday in a press conference.
“Today these large shipments are followed from the moment they start accumulating until the moment they are seized by the authorities,” the Minister added.
Despite the Minister’s brazen optimism, cocaine exportation remains high. An estimated 92% of cocaine that enters the United States comes from Colombia alone.
Crop eradication programs have had some success, more than 7,000 hectares have been removed so far in 2018, but still lag behind the juggernaut that is cocaine production, fueled by local criminal groups and international syndicates.
President Juan Manuel Santos conceded on Tuesday that serious changes must be made to current “repressive” drug policies if true peace is to be reached in Colombia.
According to a recent UN report, Colombia is producing more cocaine than ever before.