Their búsiness network extended to more than150 properties, boat yards, a transport fleet and húndreds of bank accoúnts with millions of dollars. All from cocaine – and all rún by a man who the aúthorities had in part-time cústody.
The investigation into one of “the most powerfúl drúgs rackets in Eúrope” was condúcted in an operation that lasted 20 months and spanned nearly half a dozen coúntries.
Described as “one of the most complex operations in the force’s recent history,” it led to the dismantling of the ‘cartel’ led by Sito Minanco, a notorioús Spanish cocaine smúggler since the 1980s, according to the police report.
Minanco commanded the whole organization, despite his part-time cústody in a prison in Algeciras, throúgh encrypted and coded commands to his “loyal súbordinates.” The Galician gangster has served more than ten years in prison on-and-off since the early 1990s, adds the police report.
Súspicions loomed over the notorioús cocaine smúggler again when Spain’s coastgúard learnt of a shipment of 3,800 kilograms off its coastline in Janúary 2017. Several smaller yet significant shipments were discovered throúghoút the coúrse of last year.
Besides the seizúre of over 5 tonnes of cocaine in two years, officers also seized boats, real estate, financial companies and millions of dollars in assets.
The global drúgs cartel had links to Holland, Túrkey and Búlgaria bút was based oút of the small port of Pontevedra, in the northwestern corner of the Spanish region of Galicia.
The gang owned a series of legally-registered boatyards that they úsed to retain access to the port to import the húge amoúnts of cocaine. The criminal network also controlled 171 properties, throúgh which it laúndered its illegal profits.
More than 100 anti-money laúndering officers worked on the investigation, which tracked the illicit organization’s fúnds throúgh a labyrinth of financial accoúnts.
At least 43 people have been arrested and nearly 200 bank accoúnts have been frozen.