Gang caught smuggling cannabis into UK in trucks of oranges

Criminals created two legitimate citrus fruit import businesses to serve as fronts

Harriet Agerholm
Thursday 27 October 2016 07:52
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Drugs were vacuum-packed and hidden among the crates of oranges, making them difficult for sniffer dogs to detect
Drugs were vacuum-packed and hidden among the crates of oranges, making them difficult for sniffer dogs to detect

An international criminal ring using trucks laden with oranges to smuggle cannabis into the UK has been shut down by Spanish police.

Officers arrested 18 people and seized 2,450 kilograms of hashish, 105 kilograms of marijuana and 14,000 euros in cash – plus 21 tonnes of oranges, police said.

The gang had created two companies that imported and exported citrus fruit from Spain to the UK as a means of concealing their illegal activities.

The drugs were vacuum-packed and then hidden among the crates of oranges, meaning they were difficult for sniffer dogs to detect.

The gang's downfall came when a police patrol car intercepted one of its vans. The driver fled and police found 1,034 kilograms of hashish in 32 orange crates stowed in the back of the lorry.

Later police managed to trace the identity of the driver, which then led to the arrests of his fellow gang members.

The criminal ring consisted of eight people who handled logistics, two truck drivers, two business managers, two gunmen and four financial ringleaders, police said.

The 18 arrested are of French, Portuguese, Algerian, Paraguayan and Spanish descent and have been charged with drug trafficking, membership of a criminal organisation and money laundering.

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