79-year-old Spanish woman arrested for masterminding cocaine smuggling ring

Reuters

Posted at Aug 03 2021 11:47 PM

MADRID - A 79-year-old Spanish woman was arrested as the brains behind a crime gang which smuggled cocaine from Latin America to Europe hidden inside shipments of coral, Spanish police said on Tuesday. 

Three members of the organization operated a front business which imported coral to Spain from the Dominican Republic via Portugal.

The shipping containers had been modified to conceal the packages of cocaine in secret compartments, said the Civil Guard force, which discovered 15 kg of the drug during one raid.

"The criminal organization had a clearly hierarchical structure, where the 79-year-old woman exercised the functions of leader of the group," the Civil Guard said in a statement.

The woman, who is from Alio, near Tarragona, in northeastern Spain, was arrested in Portugal with two other Spanish men, aged 26 and 60, who are from Alicante and Girona, in northern Spain.

All were arrested during an operation run by the Spanish Civil Guard and National Police and the Portuguese Judicial Police.

The gang came to the attention of police when they tried to raise money from other crime gangs for their illicit trade.