Spain police bust gang running night flight ‘hash’ copters

Spain police bust gang running night flight ‘hash’ copters
Spain police bust gang running night flight ‘hash’ copters

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - FIle picture of Spanish police officers in Madrid. Spanish police said today they had broken up a gang specialising in night-time helicopter flights to bring in hashish from Morocco, during a joint operation with their Moroccan counterparts. — Reuters pic

MADRID, March 22 — Spanish police said today they had broken up a gang specialising in night-time helicopter flights to bring in hashish from Morocco, during a joint operation with their Moroccan counterparts.

During the operation, police seized two helicopters and nearly 800 kilogrammes of hashish, arresting nine people, two of whom were “pilots with expertise in flying at night”, the Guardia Civil police said.

They said investigators spotted a helicopter taking off from a ranch near the southern port city of Cadiz in the early hours of January 15 and then flying at low altitude, without lights, towards Morocco.

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Moroccan police identified the helicopter entering the country’s national airspace, landing for “a few minutes” and then flying back.

The chopper was intercepted by Spanish police after landing at the ranch in Chiclana de la Frontera, just south of Cadiz.

On board, they found 30 bundles containing 795 kilogrammes of hashish and arrested five people, also seizing three vehicles at the ranch.

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During the raid, one gang leader died in a car crash close to the site where the helicopter was intercepted.

The Guardia Civil said he appeared to have crashed “as he fled the scene at high speed”.

Investigators later arrested another four people at a ranch in Utrera near the southern city of Seville, where they seized a second helicopter “which was being fitted out to carry out drug-carrying flights”.

The helicopters had been acquired in eastern Europe and their rear seats removed to allow them to carry up to 900 kilogrammes of hashish per flight, the police said.

Spain is one of the main entry points for drugs into Europe given its close ties with Latin America and its proximity to Morocco

Latin America is the main source of cocaine and Morocco is a key source of hashish, a sticky brown substance made from the resin of the cannabis plant. — AFP

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