Thursday, 3 July 2008

On Thursday, in the Sagres area, the Judicial Police (PJ) seized 199 bales of hashish, weighing around 6,000 kilos.

22:54 |

On Thursday, in the Sagres area, the Judicial Police (PJ) seized 199 bales of hashish, weighing around 6,000 kilos. The drug was being transported by fishing boat, and the four members of its crew were detained. The PJ released a statement saying that the police operation, dubbed “Relampago” (Lightning), was conducted with the support of the Portuguese Navy and Air Force. According to the PJ, the trawler’s movements had been under investigation and when it left its base port, Vila Real de Santo Antonio, last week, the fishing boat’s two-day trip to the Moroccan coast was kept under close surveillance by a Navy corvette and an Air Force aircraft.
The 13-metre long trawler was intercepted near the Algarve coast when its crew members were getting ready to offload the hashish. According to the police, some of those arrested already had convictions for drug trafficking offences.
On Sunday, the PJ confiscated another 2.5 tonnes of hashish in Faro. Officers said that the investigation had begun three months earlier. Some 75 bales of hashish were seized at Estudantes Beach, near Faro’s commercial harbour. This time, police apprehended six suspects, a Portuguese man and five Moroccans, aged between the 45 and 49. “Although the alleged drug traffickers offered no resistance to the arrest, they did try to escape, but without success,” said Faro PJ chief Guilhermino da Encarnaçao.He added that the drugs had been transported from North Africa in a fishing trawler and offloaded off the Algarve coast by two speedboats, which were also seized. The PJ chief stated that when police intercepted the smugglers, the hashish had already been transferred to a minivan with fake Spanish licence plates, so they believe the drugs were destined for the Spanish market.
The third seizure occurred on Saturday as a result of a joint operation between the Portuguese and Spanish authorities. Another 1,000 kilos of hashish were discovered in the Guadiana River when police spotted three crew members on a fishing boat attempting to discharge their illegal cargo on the Spanish side of the river. A Moroccan man was detained but two others managed to escape.
As well as being a main tourist region, the Algarve is also an entry point to Europe for drugs. The authorities are doubling their efforts to clamp down, and the PJ chief said: “It is an continuous battle. We are trying to control it as much as possible.”

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