High-Flying Drug Trafficker Brought Down in Spanish Bust

Published: 01 June 2023

Helicopter SilhouetteThe arrested fugitive led a criminal organization specialized in smuggling hashish into Europe with the use of aircrafts. (Photo: Dave Shaver, Flickr, License)

By Erika Di Benedetto

Spanish authorities have apprehended the leader of a drug trafficking ring responsible for smuggling narcotics from Spain to Europe using helicopters, according to officials.

The suspect, who remains unnamed by Spanish police, had been evading capture since 2014 and was the subject of five separate arrest warrants from various national courts.

His ability to elude authorities was attributed to constantly changing addresses and utilizing forged documents while residing in Portugal, Cádiz, and rural areas of Huelva. The arrest took place in Jerez de la Frontera.

Law enforcement sources disclosed that the criminal organization, under his direction, had been operating primarily in the province of Cádiz since 2014. The group specialized in smuggling hashish into Europe utilizing aircraft.

The investigation into the fugitive began in 2021 after the Spanish National Police uncovered evidence linking him to a transnational criminal network spanning multiple countries.

As the case took on an international dimension, a European Arrest and Surrender Warrant was issued. Cooperation with Portuguese authorities and The European Network of Fugitive Active Search Teams (ENFAST) facilitated monitoring the fugitive's movements across different locations while assuming various identities with counterfeit documentation.

The criminal activities of the fugitive and his organization trace back to 2014, when authorities first confirmed the existence of a criminal structure based in Cádiz involved in trafficking hashish via helicopters.

In 2015, a helicopter operated by the group crashed in Gaucín, Malaga, claiming the lives of two occupants. Authorities seized 900 kilograms of hashish from the aircraft.