Dawn police operation seizes 1.1 tonnes of hashish south of Algarve

Combined operation involved Maritime Police, Air Force and Navy

Portuguese authorities seized 1.1 tonnes of hashish at dawn today during an operation to combat drug trafficking in international waters south of Algarve.

Six men of French, Spanish and Moroccan nationality – aged between 24 – 48 – were also arrested, along with three high-speed ‘narco launches’ and around 20 jerrycans of fuel.

The joint operation involving the National Maritime Authority (three vessels), Portuguese navy (two ships) and Air Force (one plane) took place 80 nautical miles, approximately 148 kms, south of Algarve.

The vessel containing the 41 bales of hashish has been taken ashore and handed over to the Southern Directorate of Portugal’s criminal investigation police agency, PJ.

Since the beginning of the year, operations of these kind have seen the arrests of 72 people, the seizure of around 31 tonnes of drugs, and the confiscation of 31 high-speed drug boats.

PJ police help dismantle European drugs ring

Also today comes news that Portugal’s PJ – together with authorities from other countries – have dismantled an international network dedicated to sending large quantities of cocaine to Europe as part of an operation that had been going on since 2022.

In a statement, the PJ said that in the last year and a half, seven people of different nationalities have been arrested, and 2,200 kilos of cocaine, “a large amount of money, property, vehicles and other objects have been seized.

The operation called Opatija, in which the PJ took part along with the authorities of Brazil, Croatia, France, Poland, Spain, Slovenia, the United States and Serbia, began in January 2022.

The criminal structure operated in several countries and was dismantled with the support of the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) and the coordination of Europol.

According to an Interpol press release, on August 24, 15 house searches were carried out, six arrests were made, and 2.7 tonnes of cocaine, top-of-the-range vehicles, luxury watches and more than €550,000 in cash were seized

A large number of bank accounts and properties were blocked during the financial investigation.

In the note, Interpol said that investigators had identified a Serbian citizen as one of the main organisers of the criminal network.

In 2022, the Serbian authorities “launched an investigation into this drug cartel, which is thought to be involved in the large-scale trafficking of cocaine from South America to the EU, specifically from Brazil,” the PJ said in the note.

The operation involved other countries on the European continent, including Portugal, which took part in surveillance and gathering information “relevant to the outcome of the operation”.

Dawn police operation seizes 1.1 tonnes of hashish south of Algarve

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