Spanish police seize drug-carrying submarine drones


MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish police have seized semi-submersible drones used by drug traffickers to ship narcotics across the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday, the first time such purpose-made devices have been discovered in Spain.

Three drones, including one made out of a surfboard, were found along with six large flying drones in several warehouses near the port city of Cadiz, Juan Antonio Siloleo, head of the central narcotics brigade, told reporters in Cadiz.

The sea-borne devices were designed to travel 30 km (19 miles) carrying up to 200 kg (440 lb) of marijuana and hashish.

"The navigation of these devices was done remotely via GPS, so that a person or a member of the organisation could check the location at any time and then arrange the docking from home with a tablet and the right software," Siloleo said.

The investigation lasted 14 months and allowed the police to seize over 150 kg of hashish and marijuana, 157,000 euros ($161,537) in cash and arrest eight people in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the northern coast of Morocco, and in the southern Spanish cities of Cadiz and Malaga.

Police also found cars with hidden compartments to take the drugs up north as far as Denmark.

There are many groups of drug traffickers and people smugglers operating in the area around the Straits of Gibraltar separating Europe from Africa which is as narrow as 8 miles in some places.

($1 = 0.9719 euros)

(Reporting by Inti Landauro, editing by Andrei Khalip, William Maclean)

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