cocaine bust

Six arrested in €30 million cocaine bust in Albufeira

Group suspected of trafficking “large quantities of cocaine” into Europe

Six people were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking and 1.2 tons of cocaine believed to be worth more than €30 million were seized in a major police operation on Wednesday in Albufeira.

In a statement to the press, PJ police said the group was caught red-handed and is believed to be responsible for trafficking “large quantities of cocaine” into Europe.

A truck used to transport the drugs was also seized, along with communication equipment, high sums of cash, documents and other objects considered “relevant” to the ongoing investigation, the police force added.

The suspects are all men, aged between 24 and 62 and from several different countries, including Brazil, Croatia, Italy and Portugal.

“In this case, we have a group of people of many nationalities, which demonstrates the size of this network, and mostly the organisation and logistical support behind this type of trafficking, given that these drugs come from other locations,” said PJ Faro boss Fernando Jordão in a press conference today.

“We are faced with a very powerful network,” he said. “It is, most of all, a network with a very, very large financial power to be able to have access to these quantities of cocaine.”

The confiscated drugs are believed to be worth over €30 million, the PJ boss said. He added that police are still investigating where the haul came from and where it was being taken, although it is believed that the plan was to export and distribute the drugs to other countries in Europe.

“We obviously have some clues. The investigation will continue,” said Jordão.

What’s certain is that the entire shipment of drugs was not meant solely for the Portuguese market.

Fernando Jordão, PJ Faro
Fernando Jordão, PJ Faro

“We are talking about large quantities. The 1.2 tons of cocaine were not certainly for the Portuguese consumer market. They were meant for a few European countries. That is what we have to investigate,” he said.

One of the members of the drug ring arrested was a Portuguese citizen from Lisbon.

“Portugal is, as you know, a point of entry” for drug trafficking, Jordão stressed, admitting that further national citizens could be involved in the network.

The PJ boss also revealed that the drugs were seized as the truck was about to start moving, possibly out of Portugal.

“In cocaine trafficking, things work differently. As I have already said, much more logistical support is needed,” he said, adding that it is still unclear whether the drugs arrived by sea.

“It is a possibility we have to look into,” he said.

The police swoop was being prepared for several days and the suspects were being monitored.

Some of the people arrested were staying at hotels and apartments in the Algarve, which is leading PJ to believe that the drug dealers had a “logistical base” in the region.

As many millions of euros-worth of drugs were being moved through the region, Jordão said that the group “had to be near” where the process was taking place.

Most of the people arrested were caught when the drugs were being prepared to be moved and did not offer resistance.

PJ police are also investigating whether this network was linked to others operating in Portugal, which have seen a significant increase in the amount of hashish being trafficked through and off the coast of the Algarve.

The investigation is being led by the Central Department of Investigation and Penal Action (DCIAP) in Lisbon.

By Michael Bruxo
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