In the News: Police Dismantle Largest Cocaine Lab Ever in Spain
Officers with the National Police in Tarragona, Spain have dismantled a massive cocaine lab, capable of producing around 20 kilos of cocaine on a weekly basis. This is the largest laboratory ever found in Spain.
The lab was located in a farmhouse in a rural area of Vila-Seca, out of the way of anyone who would notice the emission of gases from the chemical processes involved in the manufacture of cocaine.
Spanish police have arrested 12 drug traffickers who were using the premises under the cover of being a “souvenir manufacturing company.” The 12 people arrested were reportedly part of a highly specialized organization which offers technical assistance to other drug gangs in Spain.
As well as the 12 arrests, police have seized 22 kilos of cocaine, two vehicles and around 3,500 gallons of the chemicals required to extract the drug. The chemicals were concealed in various types of containers, including soda and other household bottles.
The Cocaine Lab
Those involved in the operation of the lab were first tasked with disguising the chemicals used in the process in various types of more innocent containers, including biodiesel or soda bottles. Secondly, the traffickers actually then made the cocaine itself and then, lastly the drug was cut with other substances in order to increase the amount of the product, leading to higher revenues from the sale.
According to Spanish officials, the organization stored around four tons of the specific chemicals needed for the process in the farmhouse in Tarragona and also used other housing as well as rented storage in Barcelona for more. It is estimated that, using the tools, equipment and chemicals seized this week, the detainees had the capability of producing 20 kilograms of cocaine a week, or more than a ton of cocaine a year.
Previous Large Scale Cocaine Bust in Spain
Prior to this bust, back in 2011, police in Madrid seized what, at that time, they called the “largest and most sophisticated cocaine laboratory” in Europe known to date.
Spanish police arrested 25 people and dismantled what they claimed was the biggest and most involved cocaine laboratory in Europe – to date. At that time, agents seized about 660 pounds of cocaine as well as and 33 tons of chemicals used to prepare it for sale. Also confiscated were 470 cell telephones and 2 million in euros (2.6 million in cash) in the raid, on a villa outside the capital, Madrid. The suspected laboratory was located on a farm on the outskirts of Madrid and police took it over just before it was to begin operations for the day.
Of the 25 people arrested, all were either Spanish or Colombian and included several Spanish lawyers. The lawyers were suspected of helping to launder money made from the sale of the cocaine through their law firm, which they used to give the cocaine operation an appearance of legality.
Police said the operation began in early December and followed two years of investigations.
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