The investigation has led to the largest seizure of drugs in Spain - 200,000 pills of the benzodiazepine family - and has ended with the arrest of 8 people and the seizure of more than 500,000 tablets in Spain and Morocco.
Karkubi is the colloquial name for a narcotic substance that is made by mixing psychotropic drugs with hashish, alcohol or glue. The operation - developed in four phases - has been carried out in the provinces of Lleida, where the leader of the organization was based, Madrid and Alicante, where the main supplier of tablets of the network was arrested.
The investigation began in June 2,021 thanks to the exchange of information with the Tangier Police Cooperation Center MED of the International Cooperation Division of the National Police through the Moroccan DGSN. They informed the National Police that they had intervened a rental van with Moroccan license plates, leased by a transport company based in Lleida, inside which they located 4,477 grams of cocaine and 361,672 tablets of psychotropic drugs.
From that moment, the agents determined the existence of a criminal organization, with strong roots in the city of Lleida, presumably dedicated to obtaining different medicines from the benzodiazepine family for the subsequent manufacture, in Morocco, of a drug known as karkubi.
After several steps, the researchers observed that the drugs were obtained by falsifying medical prescriptions. In this sense, the network used men with police records and addicts to narcotic substances, since they are products that are usually prescribed to habitual drug users, paying back their work with small amounts of money or with narcotic substance.
Once the drugs were obtained, they were sent to Morocco, where the clandestine laboratories for the manufacture of karkubi are located. This drug, whose capsules are known on the black market as "cartridge", "refill", "red vial" or "Guadalupe", is obtained by mixing psychotropic drugs with hashish, alcohol or glue, and can cause hallucinations and psychopathies.
The police efforts carried out ended with a joint device of the National Police and the Customs Surveillance Service of the Tax Agency, whose agents appeared at the warehouse of the transport company in Getafe (Madrid).
There they proceeded to open the package, which contained two boxes with an oven inside each one. Upon removing the metal panel from both ovens, they found 348 pots of tablets, which contained an approximate total of 80,000 tablets, hidden in the interior compartments. The researchers warned that the new drug was being introduced through the guise of a well-known drug, taking advantage of both packaging and commercial labeling.
As a result of the previous phase, the investigated organization changed the method of transport and, in mid-September, used one of its members to transport the drugs on board a vehicle. On this occasion, the route would be through the French port of Séte, where the investigated would take a ferry that would connect him by sea with Nador and later continue by road to Casablanca (Morocco).
Thanks to international cooperation, a device was established in order to identify this person, as well as the vehicle, and intervene the substance that he was transporting. Finally, an individual of Moroccan origin who was driving a vehicle, with Spanish registration, was intercepted, inside which a total of 70,000 tablets of the pharmacological group of benzodiazepines were located.
Last November, the agents learned that a part of the organization, based in Lleida, was going to transfer a significant quantity of drugs for sale in Morocco. After locating the possible carriers, they verified how, indeed, they loaded a significant quantity of pills into a vehicle.
They also observed that the carrier would not travel alone, but accompanied by one of the members of the investigated organization. The security measures adopted highlighted the importance of the shipment, which is why a new device was carried out.
As a result of this operation, the agents intercepted the vehicle, detained its two occupants and seized 62,000 tablets of an anxiolytic medication, in their respective blister packs, as well as the vehicle in question. On this occasion, the pills were hidden in a suitcase and a large bag, separated by groups of 40 blisters per package and not presenting the original product box.
The investigation has confirmed that these tablets were going to be sold to an intermediary at some point in the Spanish Levante. Likewise, the agents verified that the final destination of the 210,000 pills intervened in these first three phases was Morocco, where the clandestine production laboratories of Karkubi are located.
In mid-December 2,021, the agents carried out the last phase of the investigation that concluded with 4 house searches in Lleida (3) and Alicante (1), and 5 detainees. In the province of Lleida, the leader of the organization, an individual of Moroccan origin, was arrested at whose home 27,000 euros in cash and 300 pills were intervened.
On the other hand, the main drug supplier of the network was arrested in Alicante, where the agents seized small quantities of different tablets that he kept as samples of the different substances with which the organization trafficked. ■
The Polish government has vowed to seek support for its proposal to have the European Union reinstate permits for Ukrainian haulers, but the bloc's executive has declared that the return of permits is not possible, according to news reports.