21 arrested who controlled brutal outdoor marijuana plantations in the Pyrenees

Agents of the Police of the Generalitat-Mossos d’Esquadra of the DIC of the Police Region Alt Pirineu and Aran, in Catalonia (Spain) together with the investigation units of Alt Urgell and Pallars Jussà – Pallars Sobirà, have dismantled between the summer of 2022 and 2023 two criminal organizations dedicated to marijuana plantations abroad and in areas with very difficult access to the Catalan Pyrenees. The agents have arrested a total of 21 people as alleged perpetrators of crimes involving membership in a criminal organization and against public health.

A total of 27,000 plants that would represent 8.1 tons of drugs, with a value in the illicit market estimated at 16 million euros for wholesale sale (among drug traffickers) and 49 million sold at retail, based on the sale price in Catalonia. This amount could double or triple in the illicit markets of European Union countries.

Apart from the Pyrenees, the activity of criminal organizations extended to the West and the Central Region. Plantations in Alt Urgell, Pallars Jussà, Pallars Sobirà, Noguera and Osona have been dismantled.

The first phase of the police investigation began in early July 2022 with the discovery of an outdoor marijuana plantation in the Barony of Rialb (Noguera) run by a criminal organization that carried out cultivation, maintenance, care and surveillance of the plantation. The investigators began a series of surveillance that concluded that at least four people were working on the illegal plantation and that they were also permanently established in cultivation in a place of difficult access located in the mountain.

With the aim of dismantling the criminal group and preventing the narcotic substance from being introduced into the illicit market, on September 6, 2022, the Mossos d’Esquadra entered the plantation. In this case, the presence of the Special Intervention Group was necessary due to the involvement of organized crime specialized in this criminal typology that Sometimes it places traps that are dangerous for the physical integrity of people at the entrances. of the plantations to avoid drug assaults or to delay police interventions and give the members more time to escape.

In total, in the Baronía de Rialb plantation, the agents located more than 1,800 marijuana plants, representing more than 500 kg of marijuana. The value of the total marijuana from the plantation on the illicit market would have been more than three million euros. Following the dismantling of the first plantation, on September 6, 2022, one was detected very close, also in Baronia de Rialb, which was dismantled a few days later, resulting in 3,000 plants destroyed and 3 arrested.

At the end of 2022, the Tremp Investigation Unit located in Sarroca de Bellera (Pallars Jussà) a deforested space with obvious signs of having recently been used as a marijuana plantation outdoors in a remote area surrounded by forest. Upon learning of this fact, a joint work team was started with the DIC to find out who could be responsible for this alleged plantation.

Months later, at the end of April 2023, investigators were aware of the resumption of criminal activity in the same cultivation area. The agents documented through surveillance and monitoring that there were two people in charge of this plantation who carried out plantation care and cultivation tasksand two others that carried out transportation and logistics tasks.

A plantation / cops

In fact, as part of the investigation, the Mossos detected that the members of this criminal group themselves also ran two nearby plantations located in Senterada and Torre de Repolla (Pallars Jussà) and another in Rupit y Pruit (Osona). In total, They managed four large, open-air marijuana plantations.

With all the evidence collected, On September 13, 2023, simultaneous entries were made in the four plantations, as well as in one of the homes of those investigated in Lloret de Mar (La Selva). In the operation, the investigators arrested nine people and dismantled more than 6,000 marijuana plants in the four plantations, more than half of them in the Sarroca de Bellera plantation.

The visual inspections carried out by the Mossos d’Esquadra and the work of the investigators in these cases conclude that this type of outdoor marijuana plantations usually follow the same common denominator. Its about typical scheme of the Albanian Mafia, seen in other parts of Spain such as Valencia, Andalucía or Galicia.

Aerial view of a crop / cops

-The spaces present identical elements characteristic of open-air plantations managed by organized crime with differentiated cultivation zones, living zones, drying zone and packaging marijuana and a water collection point in a nearby river.

-Are located in a remote placeinaccessible by vehicle.

-Elements are documented that indicate thate several people make life during an indeterminate period of time (mattresses, sleeping bags, kitchen utensils…).

-There are signs of manipulation of marijuana plants: Remains are found (trunks and branches), which would have been separated from the consumable part (leaves and buds) before packaging.

-Apart from the water collection point with a pump, there is usually an elaborate infrastructure to guarantee the irrigation of the plantation, such as hoses, generators and small reservoirs or swimming pools.

These types of plantations in remote and difficult-to-access places imply a very marked operating mode of the people who run the spaces. Initially they take charge of the preparation of the land, since it is a steep terrain and not suitable for cultivation, they must clear all those branches and bushes that hinder the cultivation of plants to obtain optimal growth conditions. Then the irrigation system installation which will allow water and other nutrients to be supplied to the plants.

One of the plantations / cops

In relation to water use, the needs of plants also require continuous irrigation, which generates very high consumption. For this reason, these outdoor marijuana plantations must have a constant supply of water, hence the presence of large tanks in many plantations, many meters of beam and pumping equipment. This water is subsequently treated with fertilizers and chemicals, making it suitable for irrigation of plants.

Drying area / cops

The cycle of these crops usually lasts between three and five months, in their growth, flowering and maturation phases depending on the type of plant and fertilizers used. From that moment on, the functions of the people responsible for the plantation care is to water the plants and provide the appropriate supplements for their growth.

Once the plantation is ready for harvesting, Those responsible for the plantation are in charge of defending the harvest against looting from other organizations or from a person who takes advantage of the opportunity to steal marijuana.

One of the camps / cops

In other research it has been proven that once the marijuana buds are dry and suitable for consumption, They vacuum pack them and transfer them to their final destination, which is usually countries in northern Europe.where the price of marijuana can double or triple the sales price in Catalonia.

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