MADRID (AP) — Spanish authorities seized 3.8 metric tons of cocaine in just over a month at Valencia’s port, as drug smugglers presumed police would be off-guard during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said Friday.
The investigations began in April after a tip-off from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Homeland Security Investigations, Spanish police said in a statement.
Amid an increase in maritime traffic arriving in Valencia, on southeastern Spain’s Mediterranean coast, traffickers presumed that “supervision and investigative activities by Spanish authorities would be diminished” because of a state of emergency and national lockdown to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, according to the statement.
Police found the cocaine in six containers arriving from Latin America. The drug was concealed in various ways, including inside bags of sugar, barrels of pineapple pulp, and among Californian walnuts, the statement said.
Police arrested 11 people, including eight Spaniards, two Dutch people and one person from Ivory Coast. Some port workers are also suspected of involvement.