Spanish and Polish authorities seized four cannabis plantations with more than 3,000 plants and arrested 13 alleged members of a large-scale drug trafficking network that operated across the continent, Europol said in a statement released Wednesday.
According to Europol, the Polish wing of the network was associated with football hooligans that follow one of Krakow’s local teams.
“The criminal network bought, smuggled and sold large quantities of drugs, mainly hashish, marijuana, and cocaine,” Europol said.
The group brought drugs in through Spain and moved them through the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belgium,
and elsewhere. They also had ties with Albanian gangs who helped move the drugs into the United Kingdom, according to Europol.
At the time of their arrest, police believe the group was planning to transition into smuggling medical gear and PCR tests in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“Investigators detected that the criminal organization intended to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by acquiring a large number of medical supplies,” Europol said. “A warehouse was used by one of the leaders of the organization to store large amounts of surgical masks, quick tests for COVID-19 and swabs” for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which the gang had smuggled from China.
The bust was the culmination of a three-year investigation during which 68 suspects were arrested. In addition, authorities seized 3.4 metric tons of cannabis, 1.4 tons of hashish, and more than US$3.5 million in assets.
OCCRP / Balkantimes.press