Personnel from the Organised Crime and Anti-Drugs Team (EDOA) of the Judicial Police Organic Unit (UOPJ) of the Command of the Civil Guard of Almeria initiates the operation in March 2021, within the framework of its investigation activities on criminal networks that operate in the province with extensive infrastructures for the introduction of drugs from the African continent, storage at national level and subsequent distribution to the European Union.
Operation Preticor is being carried out in two conveniently coordinated phases. In the first phase, the objective is to determine the structure and mechanisms of the organisation for the introduction of drugs along the coast of Almeria.
For this purpose, they used recreational boats with no external signs that could identify them, but specially adapted for these activities.
Among the mechanisms used to carry out the routes, they had large quantities of petrol which they transported to the marinas, with the risk this entailed for navigation, as well as for people outside the organisation who might be in the vicinity.
In the second phase, once the infrastructure for the introduction of large quantities of drugs had been dismantled, all efforts were directed towards the logistical network dedicated to the distribution of the narcotic substance at an international level in order to fully dismantle the organisation.
Introduction of the drugs along the coast of the province of Almería.
The modus operandi of the organisation consists of transferring the drugs from a boat from Morocco to a pleasure boat that takes them to the coast of Almería. On arrival, there is an operation in place to load the drugs and transport them quickly to the houses or garages where they are hidden until they are later distributed throughout Europe.
The hashish is hidden in the interior of the gas cylinders commonly used for transporting fuel for this type of recreational craft. In this way, the petrol was used to enable the movement of the boats and then these types of “carafes”, of between 30 and 50 litres, were used to introduce the drugs as a means of concealment and legal appearance, also hidden in the double bottoms of the boat itself.
The EDOA of the Guardia Civil identified a network of flats and garages in the neighbourhood of Las Negras that formed the logistical structure of these drug trafficking operations, whether they were used as “nurseries”, dwellings for undercover storage, or for the concealment of the vehicles used to transport the narcotic substance to distant points.
Almost all the vehicles are foreign vehicles with falsified number plates to give greater protection to the transport.
Distribution of the hashish internationally by means of trucks with double bottoms.
During the second phase, the Guardia Civil detected that the criminal organisation under investigation had a complex network of lorries used to transport the narcotic substance to third countries in the European Union.
The organisation contacts people who, in exchange for a series of monthly economic benefits, acquire a lorry, register it with a transport cooperative and finally cede its use to the network.
At the same time, they participate in legal transport operations to cover up their activity, which means entering into competition with transporters and companies that work according to the established transport rules and prices.
Once the organisation had the lorries, tractor unit and trailer, it replaced the trailers with others that had complex systems of double bottoms, but kept the registration plates of the first one.
In this way, the organisation had a logistical structure of trucks with double bottoms, which were registered in the name of third parties with no apparent link to the organisation, and which, thanks to the cooperative, operated in the legal transport of goods.
Drugs in exchange for services rendered for the organisation.
Part of the consideration given by the organisation to the different collaborators was in the form of hashish, which was subsequently distributed on a smaller scale throughout the province of Almería and neighbouring areas in order to obtain succulent and rapid economic benefits with occasional shares which allowed them to lead a high standard of living.
In this sense, a significant quantity of drugs was seized, obtained as a form of payment, which one of the collaborators was preparing to sell to an external organisation based in the province of Granada.
Knowing the modus operandi of the organisation and its components, as well as the role played by each of them, the investigators requested the Judicial Authority to carry out 7 searches in the towns of Las Negras, Balerma, Balanegra, Berja, Pampanico and Puente del Río.
Finally, Operation Preticor resulted in the arrest of 10 people and the investigation of another 4, the dismantling of an indoor cultivation of marijuana and the seizure of a total of 900 kilograms of hashish, two boats, numerous vehicles including cars and trucks with double bottoms, weapons and cash among other effects.
The members of the organisation are charged with membership of a criminal organisation, crimes against public health (drug trafficking), identity theft, falsification of public documents and breach of sentence.
The operation was carried out by specialists from the Anti-Drug Organised Crime Team (EDOA) of the Judicial Police Unit of the Guardia Civil of Almeria, and was directed by the Court of Instruction number 1 of Berja.