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Homeland Security

11 October 2005

U.S. Works with Canada, Spain To Break Up Global Drug-Trafficking Ring

Authorities thwart attempt to transport cocaine from Caribbean to Spain

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- U.S. law enforcement agents, working with their counterparts in Canada and Spain, have broken up an international drug-trafficking ring that was attempting to smuggle 1,000 kilograms of cocaine from the Caribbean into Spain and other parts of Europe.

In an October 11 statement, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said it learned through an investigation that the drug ring involved an individual who was considered one of Canada's largest drug traffickers.  ICE is the investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

ICE said that in late September, Spain's Guardia Civil detected members of the drug-trafficking organization in the Spanish province of Gerona.  With the assistance of U.S. and Canadian authorities, Spanish officials learned that other members of the organization would be arriving in Spain from Canada in early October.

The dismantling of the organization, said ICE, began October 6 in the city of Cambrils, Spain, where members of the drug organization who had traveled to Spain were detained as they attempted to distribute the cocaine in Europe.  Authorities also detained the leader of the organization, who had traveled to Spain to coordinate both the sale of the drugs and the laundering of the proceeds from those sales.

ICE said its investigation revealed that besides Spain, the drug ring operated in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Ireland.  The investigation resulted in the detention in Spain of four Canadian nationals and the seizure of 1,000 kilograms of cocaine, several high-performance vehicles and the latest high-technology computer equipment.

A U.S. State Department report said Spain is a principal gateway for shipments of cocaine transported from Latin America.  The State Department said in its International Narcotics Control Strategy Report for 2005 that most of the cocaine trafficked to Spain originates in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.

Traffickers exploit Spain's close historic and linguistic ties with Latin America and the long Spanish southern coastline to transport drugs for consumption in Spain or for distribution in other parts of Europe, said the report. The report is available on the State Department Web site.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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