Portugal drug rings linked to terrorism

Authorities in Portugal are redoubling their investigations into the traffic of hashish after new information has cited it as one of the raw materials for international terrorism. The renewed fears come in the wake of fresh evidence that the attack in Madrid on March 11 was financed with money from drug trafficking.

Terrorism is by no means linked exclusively to drug trafficking – the traffic of people and the falsification of passports also play a major part. But authorities fear for the future if Portugal becomes one of the main European entry points for the illegal smuggling of hashish. The Judicial Police (PJ), the Direccão Central de Combate ao Banditismo (The DCCB – Agency for the Combat of Crime) and the anti-terrorist group, UCAT, the intelligence group that investigates crimes of extreme violence and terrorism, are stepping up investigations into the link.

The connection between drugs and terrorism was first raised after the terrorist attack in Casablanca on May 16 last year, which killed 45 people. Particular attention is being paid to the link between drugs and Islamic terrorism. Portugal is now said to be co-operating closely with Moroccan authorities, but officials stress that this is nothing new. “Our two countries have always had a good relationship,” says a senior source.

Spanish authorities became more convinced about the link between hashish and terrorism in April after they discovered 50 kilos of hashish in a house used by one of those responsible for the Madrid attack. “Initially, the fundamentalist structures in Morocco were not taken all that seriously. But now, following the attacks in Madrid, they have gained in importance. The worry is all the greater when there is traditionally a connection between Spanish drug rings and Portuguese drug-trafficking rings,” said a source from the PJ.