Spanish police have seized more than 1.2 tonnes of cocaine on a ship carrying corn from Brazil, two weeks after their Brazilian counterparts confiscated 1.5 tonnes of the drug from the same vessel.
A team of customs agents and Guardia Civil and national police officers intercepted the Unispirit 50 nautical miles off the island of Gran Canaria on October 16, and after escorting the vessel into port they conducted a painstaking five-day search of its cargo. Hidden among sacks containing 3,500 tonnes of corn, they found 1,210 kilos of cocaine.
The Spanish operation began following a tip-off from Brazilian federal police, who had discovered 1,524 kilos of cocaine hidden inside 15 sacks while the Unispirit was being loaded with its cargo at the south-eastern port of São Sebastião.
“At the beginning of the month, the ship continued its journey towards the Spanish port of Cádiz, which included a stop in the port of Las Palmas” in Gran Canaria, the Guardia Civil and national police said in a joint statement.
“There were still suspicions that there could have been more drugs concealed aboard. The Brazilian federal police told Spanish police that the ship had left port in strange circumstances before the Brazilian search had been completed. As a result, they asked customs agents and officers from the national police and the Guardia Civil to take another look at the cargo once it reached Spain.”
The second inspection turned up 12 further sacks that concealed cocaine.
A spokeswoman for the national police said the investigation was ongoing and that no arrests had been made.
Police intercepted a “narco-submarine” off the coast of Galicia in north-west Spain in November last year, and seized three tonnes of cocaine following a joint operation with police forces from the UK, Portugal, the US and Brazil.