MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish police said on Friday they had arrested an internationally wanted drug trafficker suspected of using the proceeds from importing tonnes of hashish and cocaine to splash out on luxury cars, yachts and high-end watches.
After a two-year investigation, Moroccan national Fikri Amellah was arrested in a dawn raid on his Barcelona apartment on Tuesday in a joint operation with French and Belgian police, the Guardia Civil police force said.
Guardia Civil footage showed heavily armed officers breaking down doors in Barcelona and searching a luxury riverside apartment alleged to be connected to the network.
Amellah is accused of running one of the largest wholesale hashish operations in Spain and was beginning to muscle in on the more lucrative cocaine trade, the force said, adding that he was suspected of importing 4.3 tonnes of hashish and 1.8 tonnes of cocaine this year.
Although he lived in a modest apartment in Barcelona’s Poble Sec neighbourhood, police seized around 1 million euros ($1.13 million) in cash, 3 million euros of jewellery and 10 luxury cars.
One of the limited edition watches was valued at up to 800,000 euros.
Police also found two notebooks containing details of various seaborne trafficking operations as well as encrypted communications devices and satellite phones.
Another 16 people from the network were detained in Barcelona, Galicia and Andalusia. All but three were been remanded in custody.
(Reporting by Nathan Allen, Editing by Inti Landauro and Alison Williams)