Drugs focus on the Azores

Police cooperation key to drugs seizure

The coordinator of the Judiciary Police (PJ) in the Azores stressed yesterday that police cooperation between several countries was “fundamental” in the July seizure of half a ton of cocaine in a sailboat in the marina of Praia da Vitória, Terceira Island (pictured).

At a press conference in Lisbon and in the presence of police officers from Spain, the Netherlands, Europol and MAOC-N (Maritime Analysis and Operations Center – Narcotics), Renato Furtado also stressed that “pleasure craft have been widely used for the cocaine transport from the Caribbean and from all over South America to Europe”.

A large number of trans-Atlantic vessels stop in the Azores

According to the PJ coordinator, “a large part of these vessels stop in the Azores for various reasons, sometimes due to breakdowns, sometimes to replenish food and water,” and it is also a way for transnational criminal organizations “to transport quite significant quantities from cocaine only, because the airway does not allow this scale at the transport level. ”

The investigation, which allowed the seizure of about 500 kilos of covert cocaine inside the ‘Imagine’ sailboat and led to the arrest of two men (one Dutch and one Estonian), began in Spain, in the Valencia area, but was fused with information coming directly from the Dutch police, a country where two other people were later arrested and house searches were carried out.

Drugs seized in Terceira

Renato Furtado explained that the police and entities involved in the investigation decided, for strategic reasons, to seize cocaine in the passage of the boat through Terceira Island (Azores), and the operation was carried out on the ground by the local PJ, who found the drug hidden in “two distinct spaces” of the vessel.

After the arrest of the two occupants of the sailboat, 53 and 41 years – continued the PJ coordinator – operations were immediately carried out in the Netherlands, with two other arrests in that country and another suspect in another European country, which he did not want to specify.

Renato Furtado and the other foreign police officers present at the PJ headquarters today also did not want to provide data on the size and size of the criminal organization involved in this case, and the PJ coordinator justified that this could undermine the ongoing investigations. He noted, however, that the drug seizure and arrests caused “significant damage” to that international criminal organization.

According to PJ in mid-July, the cocaine sailboat had sailed from South America and the drug was to be delivered to a European port. In addition to the drug, a pistol and other evidence was also seized. The passage of the sailboat on Terceira Island, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, would serve for crew rest and refuelling.

Spaniard Miguel Rodriguez, representing Europol, stressed at the press conference that the “only way to combat transnational organized crime” is through police cooperation between different countries. “No country can combat this phenomenon alone,” emphasized the Europol leader.

Thanks as usual to Peter for the link to this story

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