Two members of the Spanish Epsilon Team — which offers assistance to drivers and technical advice to drivers at the Dakar Rally — were arrested last week after police found some 1.4 metric tons of cocaine hidden inside one of the trucks as it returned from the all-terrain race held last month in South America, police said Saturday.
In all, five people have so far been arrested in the ongoing investigation.
The 8x8 all-terrain vehicle had arrived at the northern French port of Le Havre from Valparaíso, Chile on Wednesday. Hours later, three Spaniards and two Bulgarians, the purported ringleaders of the drug gang, were arrested.
Sources close to the investigation said that Xavi Mora, who was driving the truck from La Havre to Catalonia, was arrested at a highway rest stop near Normandy along with another man, only identified as J. B. Team coordinator David Olivares was detained at his home in Barcelona.
The Bulgarians were arrested in their country.
French authorities said that they expected more arrests in other countries in the coming days.
According to officials in Paris, the seizure of 1.393 tons of cocaine is one of the largest finds of the drug in recent years. The cocaine was wrapped tightly in plastic and placed inside the large radial tires in one of the trucks that was used for logistical purposes at the Dakar Rally, which this year saw racers pass through Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.
Anti-drug officials in France believe that the cocaine came from supplies in Bolivia and Colombia.