Spain Sees Cannabis ‘Boom’ After Sophisticated Chinese Mafia Involvement

Chinese mafia involvement in the cannabis industry in Spain has led to a “boom” in the production of marijuana in the European country in “the last four years,” Spanish investigators recently said.

Spanish investigators learned more about the Chinese mafia’s role in the country’s marijuana industry after a tip-off three years ago, which saw the launch of “Operation Mastín,” the English-language El Pais reported.

The operation led to 41 arrests last year with 20 of the suspects – one Spaniard and all the remainder Chinese between the ages of 25 and 35 – now in pre-trial detention.

Last Thursday, Spain’s Civil Guard arrested five Chinese nationals in the eastern central Chiva city in Valencia province after seizing 12,000 marijuana plants. El Pais said the bust was the province’s biggest, valued at €7 million or about $10.8 CDN.

The bust comes after last the Central Unit for Specialized and Violent Crime (UDEV) in November last year destroyed the last the mafia’s two plantations – out of 12 in total – with 2,500 marijuana plants in Girona and Barcelona.

Spain’s Interior Ministry said the amount of marijuana seized skyrocketed by 55.7 percent last year. While marijuana is illegal for commercial purposes in Spain, it is decriminalized for personal cultivation and use, and other purposes other than sale or trade.

The investigators said the marijuana operations were thoroughly studied, and cannabis was seen as a less dangerous drug.

They said:

“They scattered their production in 12 different regions so as to not lose the entire crop.”

They added: “There were the recruiters, who scouted for houses and industrial warehouses which could be used for the plantation; we have found three floors in one of them full of marijuana plants.”

There were also the “assemblers,” who are in charge of setting up and maintaining the plantation.

The daily said “adding another layer of sophistication, the Chinese group implemented an ad hoc insurance agency to cover losses if the merchandise was lost on the way or intercepted.”

The investigators said: “They detected that they lost a set number of packages, normally between five and 15 kilograms, valued at between €3,000 and €4,000 a kilogram, so they set up an insurance business in which the insurer kept 20% of the value of the package but if it didn’t arrive at its destination, they returned 35% of its total value, and in this way nobody lost.”