MADRID – Spanish police have detained a helicopter pilot suspected of flying hauls of hashish from Morocco to Spain while on temporary release from prison, they said on Sunday.
Officers arrested the pilot on March 6 after he allegedly landed a helicopter loaded with 750kilos near Estepona in southwestern Spain.
"The pilot was carrying out a sentence at a correctional centre and took advantage of his weekend furloughs to carry out the drug flights," said a police statement.
The pilot was serving a sentence for an undisclosed crime at a jail in the seaside city of San Sebastian in Spain’s northern Basque Country.
Police seized 1.5 tonnes of hashish as part of the operation along with 1,000 marijuana plants, two helicopters, 15 vehicles and 220,000 euros ($245,695) in cash.
In a separate case, police Sunday said they have dismantled a drug ring that used cars fitted with false floors to transport huge amounts of hashish from Spain to Russia, Poland and Estonia.
Investigators seized 1.2 tonnes of hashish in separate raids across Europe, as well as several luxury cars and 20,000 euros ($22,000) in cash in Spain, police said in a statement.
Five suspects were arrested in Spain, including the alleged leader of the ring who lived in the town of Benissa on the Mediterranean coast, as part of the operation, it added. Another seven were arrested in Estonia and three were detained in Poland.
Conveniently located at the crossroads of North Africa and the rest of Europe, Spain is a major transit point for drugs entering the continent.
Spanish police seized around 100 tonnes of hashish last year, about three per cent less than in the previous year.— AFP