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Spanish police bust drugs ring 'simulating orca attacks' to aid smuggling into ports

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By AFP with Euronews
In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, a female resident orca whale is seen in Puget Sound near Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA.
In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, a female resident orca whale is seen in Puget Sound near Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

Spanish police say they have dismantled a drug trafficking ring who simulated boat damage, and even orca attacks, to get towed into ports and smuggle in hashish.

After loading the drugs into the cabin of a sailing boat on the Moroccan coast, once in Spanish waters the group claimed to have been the victim of damage or an accident, the police said in a press release.

The coastguard would then tow the boats to Andalusian ports in southern Spain, where the drugs were unloaded little by little and stored in a hiding place awaiting reshipment abroad.

One boat used by the ring anchored in the port of Barbate, about fifty kilometres from Cadiz, after claiming that it had "been the victim of an attack by orcas while crossing the Strait of Gibraltar", the police said.

The investigation was opened in the summer of 2021, when a boat -- with several people on board known to have had criminal records related to drug trafficking -- was spotted making "suspicious movements" at sea.

Two people were arrested and 172 kilos of drugs as well as more than €63,000 were seized as part of the investigation.

In September 2020, Spain temporarily banned sailing boats from part of its northwest coast after around 50 orca attacks.

Orcas, or killer whales, can weigh up to six tons and measure nearly 10 metres in length, the size of a bus.