Spain captures 85-year-old drug lord Manuel Charlin

Spanish police stand guard outside an apartment building during a sweeping operation at some 12 locations against Islamist militants, in which eight people were arrested, in Barcelona, Spain, April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea

The veteran drug trafficker is considered the patriarch of “the most violent organization” in Galicia. He was arrested by police along with 18 others in a major cocaine bust in the northwestern Spanish region.

Spanish police

Spanish police on Wednesday arrested 85-year-old Manuel Charlin, long considered one of Spain’s most notorious drug lords.

Charlin was captured during a raid against a major cocaine trafficking operation in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia. At least 18 other people were arrested, including Melchor Charlin, Manuel’s son.

Authorities said the operation centered on a major cocaine haul off the Azores islands, an autonomous Portuguese archipelago, which was headed for Galicia.

‘Most violent organization’

Charlin became infamous for his violent methods while leading the Charlin clan, one of Europe’s largest drug trafficking networks from Galicia. His clan was described as “without a doubt the most violent organization” in the region by investigative reporter Nacho Carretero.

Charlin’s arrest comes months after Spanish police detained another well-known drug trafficker, 62-year-old Sito Minanco.

Read more: Colombia’s cocaine: Who will take charge now?

Galician coastlineTraffickers have long used Galicia’s rugged coast to smuggle in illicit goods

Transit country

For decades, Galicia has been a crucial entry point for traffickers. During the 1970s, criminal networks would smuggle in alcohol and tobacco through Galicia. However, that changed with the rise of marijuana and cocaine use in the 1980s.

In a 2017 report, the EU said given its location, Spain is often used by drug traffickers as a gateway to European markets.

Read more: Cocaine ‘resurgence’ in EU as South America output rises: watchdog

“Owing to its geographical position, Spain is one of the countries in the European Union that is most targeted by international drug traffickers, especially for the transit of cannabis resin and cocaine to other European countries,” the EU report said.

ls/sms (AFP, dpa)

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