News Europe's largest marijuana operation thwarted
Organisation based in several Costa towns and run by expats was aiming to grow 10 tonnes of marijuana buds per year to become Europe's largest supplier
GUARDIA Civil have dismantled a criminal organisation that planned to become Europe's main cannabis grower and marijuana supplier.
Officers based in San Juan have arrested five men and a woman who have been charged with illegal cannabis growing (not for personal use), drug dealing, illegal possession of weapons and illegal electricity link-ups.
The detainees are four Dutchmen aged 39 to 43, a 46year-old Moroccan man and a Dutch woman age 40.
Police investigations began in August when witnesses had reported suspicious-looking individuals taking rubbish bags with what appeared to be cannabis plants from a villa and placing them in cars parked in the street.
Guardia Civil entered the property, that was empty and open, finding remains of what could have been a plantation of around 1,000 cannabis plants. They also found a weapon, which led them to believe the house had been abandoned in a rush due to suspicions aroused.
A subsequent surveillance investigation led officers to a Dutchman, believed to be the gang leader, and several houses throughout Alicante province, that were being used as 'green houses' for growing cannabis.
Officers later discovered the abandoned villa was owned by another Dutchman, of Moroccan origin, who appeared to have been selling marijuana behind the gang’s back. According to a force spokesman, this explains why it was abandoned suddenly, possibly due to a settling of accounts among the gang members.
The man was seriously beaten and he left the country.
After several weeks of against-the-clock investigation to catch the gang members, officers discovered a warehouse in La Nucía industrial estate that had all the necessary equipment to be a 'green house'.
Investigators believe the gang had around 20 properties and warehouses throughout the province for the same reason and could have easily being growing 80,000 plants per year that would have provided them with 10 tonnes of marijuana buds to be sold on the drugs market.
During five house searches in Muchamiel, Robelledo and Campello, another 8,000 plants were found, but officers discovered these three locations were used to cultivate the seeds and once the plants reached 5cm, they were distributed to 'green house' properties in other areas.
The marijuana was being sent to Holland, Germany and Belgium, which would have made the Alicante province gang one of the continent’s main producers and suppliers.
The houses and warehouses used by the gang were all equipped with CCTV and a WiFi connection to keep them under surveillance at all time by the gang.
In addition to the illegal production of marijuana, the gang are also accused of electricity theft. Many of the locations were illegally linked-up to the public supply system.
These link-ups were practically undetectable as the gang made a trench from the house along the pavement and directly to the mains wire, not a lamppost. This was done carefully and the pavement slabs replaced almost perfectly so no-one detected the work.
Electricity company workers even traced the areas due to the high consumption levels without being able to locate the linkup. One of the plantations alone is believed to have used €45,000 worth of electricity.
The five men were arrested and taken before a judge who jailed them on remand.
The woman has been released on charges and has been banned from leaving the country.