Using electric wheelchairs to smuggle drugs is a well-worn ruse, that has come unstuck before. This image shows an electric wheelchair used to hide 11kgs of cocaine, smuggled into Hong Kong in October. Customs officials became suspicious when they saw the stitching in the back and seat of the chair had been redone.

Brazilian passenger arrives with 20 kilos of cocaine hidden in wheelchair

Latest coup for PJ ‘narco’ police

PJ ‘narco’ police identified and arrested three foreigners flying into Lisbon on Friday for a ‘handover’ of 20 kilos of cocaine, hidden in an electric wheelchair.

The plan was that a Brazilian with apparent ‘mobility problems’ flew into Lisbon, to be met by two other Latin Americans who had flown into the capital from Madrid.

Had the scheme worked, the drugs would have been handed over by the Brazilian for onward distribution throughout Europe. 

The amount of cocaine was enough for around 200,000 individual doses, says tabloid Correio da Manhã.

A source for the PJ explains that everything unravelled when UNCTE, the national unit for combat of drug trafficking, stepped in and arrested all three men.

UNCTE is now ‘investigating’ information given by the men in the hope of finding out more about this particular drug network.

All three (aged in their 30s and 40s) have been presented before a judge for initial questioning and remanded in preventive custody.

Meantime, authorities have been bearing down on cartels using Portugal “to inundate Europe with cocaine”, says CM.

Along with the arrest of two men and a woman believed to be part of the so-called Balkan Cartel last week, came a joint PJ/ Spanish Guardia Civil operation in Galicia, which saw the arrest of another nine people, described as “the historic clan Os Piturros”, that has been “active since the 80s”.

Among those arrested was a member of the Balkan Cartel, a member of the Calabresi Ndrangheta mafia and various Colombian ‘narco-traffickers’, says CM.

Tuesday’s swoop followed the discovery of 1.4 tons of cocaine ‘abandoned’ in a wooded area near Peniche last April.

The discovery led to an international police operation dubbed ‘Operation Nazaré’ which involved 11 searches in Spain, one in Portugal (of a company in the Minho region) and the subsequent seizure of large amounts of cash (€40,000); drugs (1.6 tons of cocaine); top of the range cars and a high-speed motor launch.

CM adds that the Portuguese coast has been ‘more and more used by drug traffickers’ since Galician police tightened controls on their coastline. ND