Seized Cannabis Disguised as "Ukraine Aid"

Stephen Andrews
12 Dec 2022

Spanish police have detained thirty people accused of smuggling marijuana disguised as aid for Ukraine. The criminal group involved Ukrainians, Spaniards, Germans and Moroccans. The illegal packages travelled in convoys through several countries and were caught in the south of Spain.

Thousands of people around Europe are involved in helping to alleviate civilian suffering in Ukraine after the breakout of the war in Europe in February this year. But someone wanted to take advantage of that. 

According to a statement by Guardia Civil, the international gang had "pretended to be part of a solidarity convoy" in order to avoid police check-ups and border controls. 

However, suspicion was raised after police officers traced down illegal activities of a group of Ukrainians in the region of Andalusia. The group collected cannabis and stored it in a flat in Mijas, near Malaga. 

The drugs were reportedly packed in vacuum bags and placed in cardboard boxes on vans registered in Ukraine, which then travelled undercover as a solidarity convoy. 

Subsequent police searches at 11 locations in Malaga, Granada, Cordoba and Seville resulted in the seizure of almost €800,000 (£690,000; $847,000), 2,500 cannabis plants, six firearms, several bulletproof vests and similar police equipment. 

Those arrested are now accused of drug trafficking, belonging to a criminal organisation, illegal possession of weapons, and electricity fraud. Two of the suspects are additionally charged with damaging a police vehicle and injuring two officers as they tried to escape the scene.  

Needless to speak, Guardia Civil has had a remarkable year breaking down international criminal networks involved in the illegal trade of cannabis or hemp.

Just last month, Operation Jardines resulted in the capture of 32 tons of cannabis flower, or the equivalent of more than one million Cannabis plants, with an estimated street value of 65 million euros. The case was hailed the biggest of its kind ever in Spain and in the world. Dozens of suspects were arrested. 

Before that, in another operation, Spanish police seized 415,000 illegal hemp plants again worth millions. Three people were arrested.

All cases usually involve plantations and international groups operating in the south of the country, with vacuum-packed weed destined to go to various countries across Europe, including Switzerland, Italy, and Holland among other places. 

Stephen Andrews