April 13, 2024

A 14-month investigation into a unique drug operation culminated this week in the arrest of eight people by the Spanish police.

An unnamed criminal group has created air, land and sea vehicles specifically designed to deliver drugs to criminal organizations across Europe, BBC Reports(Opens in a new window). While the Spanish authorities found such watercraft and drugs in past(Opens in a new window)Those caught by police this month can independently move 440 pounds of cocaine or other drugs through waterways without the need for a human on board.

In a statement, the Spanish police said: “This is the first time that this type of vehicle, which operates underwater without a crew on board, is called unmanned underwater vehicles or UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle), better known as” aircraft. without pilot “. statement(Opens in a new window).

(Photo: Getty Images)

A video was posted on the Twitter account of the Spanish police (@Policia National(Opens in a new window)) Shows one fully built submarine and two partially built submarines. They appear to be 6 to 8 feet long each with a blue-gray color. The body is rectangular and conical at one end to propel it smoothly through the water like a torpedo. At the top are two rectangular pieces and a long cylinder that looks like chimneys.

Police also uncovered a fleet of six drones that can fly up to 18.5 miles, £135,527 in cash (US$161,201), 31 pounds of cannabis and 18 pounds of marijuana, much of which was stored in a car. The video also shows other items the group has modified to hold medication, such as a surfboard with a secret part added underneath (known as the “double bottom”). In total, the police found 13 double-bottomed vehicles, including a tow truck they had intercepted en route to Denmark.


Drones seized by the police (Photo: Spanish Police)

What are unmanned underwater vehicles?

UUVs have wide applicability as they allow underwater exploration without costly and risky human diver missions. UUVs have assisted with naval research, military operations, and commercial applications such as construction surveys, pipeline inspections, and reports Inside unmanned systems(Opens in a new window). In May, the US Navy Suggestion (Opens in a new window)Invest hundreds of millions in developing and building a fleet of UUVs.

ROV uuv

The ROV operates off the coast of Venezuela. (Photo: Humberto Ramirez/Getty Images)

There are two types of unmanned vehicles: remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). In the case of Spain, the submarines were semi-submersible ROVs. It was equipped with GPS systems and could be operated by anyone around the world using any device connected to the internet, BBC Reports(Opens in a new window). In contrast, AUVs cut off human involvement and are often pre-programmed to perform a specific task between points.

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Where did the drugs go?

Given the aquatic nature of the drones, Spanish authorities said they were able to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. The 8-mile stretch is located at the southern tip of Spain, providing relatively easy access to Morocco. The North African country is a major producer of cannabis, making Spain a major entry point for drug distribution across Europe.

Ships likely transported drugs between southern Spain and North Africa through the Strait of Gibraltar, a narrow stretch of water separating the two continents.

(Google Maps)

However, the police believed that the drones were to be delivered to drug dealers in neighboring France, so the French police cooperated with the Spanish police in the investigation, which exposed the group’s many international connections. They are believed to have provided “logistical services to all kinds of criminal organizations” in countries such as Italy, France and Denmark, although Spanish police have indicated they are still operating on a “medium scale”.

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