Rabat - The huge amount of raw cocaine seized in four interdiction actions by Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) on Tuesday has an estimated wholesale value of MAD 26 billion, according to an initial investigation conducted by the bureau.
Rabat – The huge amount of raw cocaine seized in four interdiction actions by Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) on Tuesday has an estimated wholesale value of MAD 26 billion, according to an initial investigation conducted by the bureau.
The colossal figure was announced on Monday by BCIJ chief Abdelhak El Khiam.
The prominent security official revealed that Tuesday’s operation crowned three and a half years of investigations.
The first major operation conducted by Moroccan police during this period led to the seizure of 226 kilograms of cocaine in Marrakech in September 2014. Six people were arrested during the operation, and the wholesale value of seized drugs was MAD 226 million.
The drugs were concealed in fish boxes inside a fridge truck coming from the south of Morocco.
On Tuesday, the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) said in a statement that 2,588 kilograms of cocaine were seized in different places: a farm located between Temara and Skhirat, a farm in Bouznika, and in a car Nador registered outside Morocco.
Investigators also seized 105 kilograms of hashish near Nador and an amount of money estimated at MAD 172,620, along with six vehicles allegedly used in drug trafficking and an unspecified amount of psychotropic tablets.
The BCIJ also announced the arrest of 13 suspects for their involvement in a drug trafficking network operating internationally. The ring’s two masterminds, among the arrested suspects, are Dutch of Moroccan origins.
El Khiam told the press that the drugs came from Latin America, with an initial investigation pointing to drugs cartels in Venezuela.
The drugs were shipped and then transported locally in smaller quantities of 100 kilograms by the network operating in Morocco. The raw cocaine was set to grow three-fold when processed.
“The structure of the dismantled network is similar to that of cartels,” said El Khiam, adding that the arrested suspects used satellite telephones to facilitate communication.
The seized drugs were destined to be sold both locally, in cities such as Casablanca, Fez, Tangier, and Nador, and also abroad.
For international drug trafficking networks, Morocco is seen as a potential transit point to get their products to Europe.
However, the intended distribution of cocaine in several cities indicate that hard drugs are finding their way to local customers, a phenomenon which was previously rare and which El Khiam described as a “dangerous” development.
The potential international connections of the arrested suspects will likely make Moroccan security services seek the involvement of Interpol in the case, to establish the truth about the ring’s links with other networks in countries such as Germany and Spain, explained El Khiam.