EU Police Break Suspected Morocco-to-Europe Drug Trafficking Ring

Police in Spain, France and Belgium have broken up a drug trafficking ring believed to be smuggling tons of cocaine and hashish by speedboat from Morocco to Europe, the European Union crime agency said Friday.

Spanish police arrested 17 people, including 11 Spaniards and six Moroccans, earlier in the week, Europol said in a statement. The alleged ringleader, a Moroccan suspected of being a major importer of drugs into Europe, was among those arrested.

Spain’s Guardia Civil said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was also involved in the police operation.

The gang members are also accused of laundering their proceeds from drug sales. Police believe they used cash-intensive businesses, including two Barcelona restaurants, and bought property to conceal illicit income.

Authorities seized assets worth more than 6 million euros ($6.8 million), including real estate, cash and luxury goods.

Police suspect the trafficking ring was behind thwarted operations this year to smuggle 4.3 metric tons of hashish and 1.3 metric tons of cocaine into southern Spain.

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