Cocaine coup uncovered

Police have made one of their biggest hauls of high quality cocaine that Portugal has ever seen. In total, 2231,615kg of the drug was seized at the port of Leixões, two and a half miles north of the mouth of the River Douro, in an operation code-named ‘South Sea’.

The drugs had travelled from Brazil and were disguised as ceramic tiles densely wrapped in containers. In order to add weight to the cocaine, the smugglers had added lead to the containers and, to confuse sniffer dogs at customs, had packed the drug with coffee.

Originating from Colombia, the cocaine was divided into approximately 50 million individual doses. “We are dealing with the second biggest seizure of coke ever in Portugal,” said Ataíde das Neves, the assistant national director of the Porto Policia Judicial (PJ). “A haul corresponding to the average consumption of this drug in the whole of Europe during the course of one day.” The containers of the parcels concerned had already gone through customs, but no suspects were detained.

The PJ suspected a 50-year-old Brazilian business owner living in Madrid of being the main ringleader, so a European arrest warrant was immediately issued. Agents succeeded in tracking the man down before he had learned about the interception of the drugs and the police operation. A warrant was issued at 5pm and by 8.30pm the man had been arrested – a fact that police pointed to as testimony to the closeness of judicial and police co-operation between Spain and Portugal.

“It went very well and we are very satisfied with the form the international collaboration took,” commented Neves.