20 tonnes of cannabis were seized off the coast of Spain on Sunday, allegedly linked to a Lebanese company.
The drugs, worth an estimated €400 million (almost $470 million), were seized as the ship transporting them was sailing near Spain, according to the Irish Times.
The ship, Natalia, was boarded by Spanish security forces and customs officials while in international waters, approximately 75 km south of the Canary Islands.
The crew of the ship, which was deemed so dangerously unseaworthy that it was considered at risk of sinking, consisted of 11 Syrian men, all of whom have been arrested.
The operation was the outcome of prior intelligence gathering on the part of the Irish desk of the Lisbon-based European Maritime Analysis Operations Center.
The ship, allegedly linked to a company in Lebanon that provides logistics services related to maritime transportation, had raised suspicions due to certain changes made to its registry over the last month, including to name and national flag.
The authorities first started tracking it while it was sailing from Lebanon to Lagos, Nigeria, via the Turkish port of Iskenderun.
After being boarded, it was taken to Spain’s Port of Las Palmas, where a search revealed the presence of the drugs, concealed among its regular plaster cargo in 638 bales.
20 kg more of the drug, with particularly high potency, were found in the crew quarters. The cargo was reportedly headed to Morocco, to finally be smuggled to Italy or Greece for distribution across Europe.
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