, MADRID, August 1 – Spanish authorities have seized 500 kilos (1,100 pounds) of cocaine from a yacht off the Canary Islands, in an operation that smashed a ring that smuggled drugs from Latin America to the archipelago, the interior ministry said Thursday.
Five people were arrested two Spaniards, an Irish national, an American and an Australian woman in the probe, the ministry said in a statement.
“The ring shipped large amounts of drugs from South America to Cape Verde, where it was stored. Later, after taking all kinds of security measures, the drugs were sent in smaller amounts to the Canary Islands, its final destination,” the statement said.
A Spanish customs ship intercepted the yacht on July 17 in international waters in the Atlantic Ocean near the Spanish archipelago and customs agents and police found 500 packages containing about one kilo each of cocaine onboard.
Police also seized several weapons, including two submachine guns, as well as jewelry and gold worth around 135,000 euros ($180,000), and 40,000 euros in cash in five searches carried out as part of their investigation.
The authorities also confiscated two high end vehicles, two sailboats and a schooner as well as satellite telecommunications equipment that was used by the ring.
Police have not ruled out more arrests in the ongoing investigation.
Spain is a key entry point for drugs bound for Europe.
Spain seized 20.7 tonnes of cocaine last year, 24.9 percent more than in the previous year, and 325.5 tonnes of hashish, down 8.5 percent from 2011, according to the interior ministry. That represented 41.2 percent of the total amount of cocaine seized in Europe last year and 74 percent of the hashish.