As strange as it sounds, making too much money can be a problem – especially when that money comes from illegal activities and cannot be accounted for. For a group of alleged drug traffickers arrested in Estepona, a town in Spain’s Costa del Sol, the only solution was to spend it. Spanish police say the members were making an average of €1.2 million a week from selling cocaine. Money that, according to the investigation, was spent on luxury hotels, trips across the world, luxury cars and villas in Marbella. They could also afford to indulge in expensive habits – instead of washing their clothes they would just buy new brand-name items.
Police estimate that the group sold up to 20 kilos of cocaine a week, around more than a ton a year
Spanish police have arrested 25 members of the group for drug trafficking in a sweeping operation between El Puerto de Santa María and Estepona. The group may have been living the high life, but they were just intermediaries, according to police. They got cocaine from the big mafia groups and distributed it among smaller organizations, which then sold it to customers on the street. Police estimate that they sold up to 20 kilos of cocaine a week, around more than a ton a year. The money from the business allowed the members a life of unrivaled luxury but it also drew the attention of the police, who are investigating them for money laundering. Police sources say an investigation into the “multiple possessions” of the 25 arrested members is ongoing.
The path that led officers to the group began 150 kilometers away in Puerto de Santa María. Police were aware that a family clan was selling cocaine and heroin at six points in the municipality and distributing merchandise among small-time drug dealers. They were selling an average of six kilos of cocaine a week, according to sources close to the investigation. The business was managed by different generations of the same family. Each member fulfilled a specific role, be it guarding the drugs, delivering the merchandise, cutting the cocaine or keeping watch for police. They even distributed the drugs to the sales point at different times during the week “to considerably increase their earnings,” say police sources.
Spanish police say the accused drug dealers were making an average of €1.2 million a week
After following and watching the group for six months, police officers took the investigation to the next level and were able to connect the members with the alleged drug suppliers. The A-381 and A-7 freeways were key to the operation. These roads were used by another criminal group in Estepona, which allegedly brought five kilos of cocaine to El Puerto de Santa María every week. Police discovered that they had more buyers. According to the officers, they were selling an average of 20 kilos of cocaine a week to different groups.
English version by Melissa Kitson.