In the early hours of 23 September 2016, Spanish Guardia Civil, supported by Europol, the French Direction Nationale du Renseignement et des Enquêtes Douanières and the Italian Guardia di Finanza, localized and intercepted a vessel flying the flag of Panama.

Law enforcement officers immediately boarded the ship, which was sailing to Libya, and found a crew of 12 individuals (11 Ukrainians and 1 Uzbek). A few large bags containing hashish stashed in the deck were discovered after a careful inspection of the vessel.

Twenty tons of hashish seized on board of freighter in the Mediterranean

The ship was subsequently escorted to the port of Almeria, where a thorough searched revealed the crew were transporting 19.6 tonnes of hashish. The crew were arrested and the shipment was seized.

This is yet another strike inflicted against transnational organised crime networks active in large-scale drug trafficking and other forms of serious crime in the Mediterranean Sea. It marks a significant advance in the efforts of the Joint Operation Team ‘Rose of the Winds’.

Within this context, several international investigations were launched between 2013 and 2015 by the Italian Guardia di Finanza and D.C.S.A. – Direzione Centrale per I Servizi Antidroga, Spanish Guardia Civil, French Office Central pour la Répression du Trafic Illicite des Stupéfiants and the Greek Hellenic Coast Guard.

The mentioned authorities pooled their resources together with the unique services offered by Europol, which intensely supported all four Member States in a range of areas.