Photo: Autoridade Marítima Nacional
Photo: Autoridade Marítima Nacional

Clampdown on drug trafficking off Algarve continues

Two speedboats seized and seven people identified in latest operation

Authorities continue to clampdown on drug trafficking off the Algarve coast, having seized two speedboats and identified seven people for suspected drug trafficking during an operation carried out in international waters south of Portugal.

The “suspicious” vessels were detected on Thursday afternoon by a Portuguese Air Force aircraft, which found that they lacked any identification (name or flag), and then intercepted by Maritime Police and the Portuguese Navy.

The speedboats contained 58 empty fuel storage containers, according to a National Maritime Authority statement.

“As a precautionary measure, the seven individuals (five Moroccan and two Spanish) were taken to Faro for further identification, the boats were seized, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office was contacted for further steps,” the statement added.

According to Lusa news agency, over 20 tonnes of drugs have been seized since the beginning of the year – surpassing, in less than three months, the total of drugs seized by the Maritime Police and Navy in 2022, a year in which 16.52 tonnes of drugs were seized, mainly hashish and cocaine.

“We have beaten all records this year in terms of drug trafficking. This could be due to an increase in (drug trafficking) activity through Portugal, but also because our police forces have been bolstered and we have changed our tactics,” Portuguese Navy spokesperson José Sousa Luís told reporters after the latest drug bust carried out off the Algarve coast.

“The results are in plain sight. These changes have been a success. The Navy will maintain its commitment to fighting drug trafficking,” he said.