Police in La Linea seized 12 tonnes of cannabis resin in the space of just 48 hours following four separate operations.
This comes against the backdrop of a spike in drug trafficking activity in the region in recent days, with fast rigid-hulled inflatable boats clearly visible operating in the waters of the Strait of Gibraltar.
The Policia Nacional are now investigating the four latest incidents, which also resulted in the seizure of 10 4×4 vehicles and a loaded handgun as well as the arrest of one individual.
In the first such incident, off-duty police officers on their way home after a shift spotted a van and grew suspicious as to what it was carrying when they noticed how low it sat on its rear axle, signalling that it was carrying a very heavy load.
The officers called the matter in to their on-duty colleagues and, in the meantime, pursued the suspect vehicle.
The van attempted to flee as officers closed in but was brought to a stop following a minor accident.
Inside the vehicle, officers discovered eleven bales of cannabis weighing 375kg. The driver was arrested.
A second incident unfolded on January 8 when La Linea’s municipal police requested help from the Policia Nacional in pursuing a 4×4 vehicle suspected of being used for drug trafficking.
As the police units closed in the balaclava-wearing driver refused to stop and a high-speed chase ensued.
The vehicle was followed into a garage but the occupants of the building and the suspect driver fled over the rooftops of the adjoining building.
Nonetheless, police seized 4.9 tonnes of cannabis, eight stolen 4×4 vehicles with false number plates, a handgun with 13 rounds of ammunition and radio transmitters.
The third operation saw police descend on La Linea’s eastern seaboard following a call from a member of the public alerting them to drug smuggling activities in the area.
As police arrived, a large number of people fled but a search of the area resulted in the seizure of 117 bales of cannabis weighing 3.5 tonnes.
The fourth incident came after an off-duty police officer witnessed a number of 4×4 vehicles travelling at high speed across La Linea, and tipped off his colleagues.
Officers gave chase and as they followed the vehicles into a warehouse, one 4×4 sped out.
Two 4×4 vehicles and 52 drug bales weighing 1.7 tonnes were seized from within the warehouse.
The spike in activity coincides with the harvesting season in Morocco and follows a dramatic incident at the weekend in which a RHIB was torched on a beach in La Linea, most likely to destroy DNA and fingerprint evidence.
Police sources in Spain told Spanish newspaper Viva Campo de Gibraltar that Spain’s sophisticated surveillance system had been out of operation “for months”, leaving law enforcement patrol boats “blind” at night.
Conversely, drug traffickers are known to use sophisticated radars and communication devices, making them “the kings of the night”, the sources told the newspaper.
The claim about Spain’s surveillance system could not be independently confirmed, however.