Pyrenees Marijuana: Europe’s 8-Ton Supply

8.1 tonnes of marijuana with a total value of 49 million euros. The numbers are impressive. Between 2022 and 2023, Spanish authorities carried out a major operation to dismantle two criminal organizations specializing in outdoor marijuana cultivation. The drug was cultivated on the slopes of the Pyrenees near the French border and spread to Northern Europe

The catch is exceptional. Between 2022 and 2023, Spanish authorities carried out a major operation in the Catalan Pyrenees, dismantling two criminal organizations specializing in outdoor marijuana cultivation. The operation resulted in the seizure of 27,000 marijuana plants, representing a total weight of 8.1 tonnes of the drug.

The estimated market value of this seizure is impressive, reaching 16 million euros, during sales to drug traffickers, and 49 million euros in retail, according to prices in Catalonia. This value could further increase on the illicit markets of European Union countries.

During the operation, a total of 21 people were arrested, including 3 in 2022 and 18 in 2023. The arrests targeted both members of the criminal organizations who supervised the plantations and ensured their cultivation as well as the individuals responsible for the distribution drugs on the illicit market.

The marijuana plantations were located in remote and difficult to access areas of the Catalan Pyrenees, requiring constant surveillance by guards living on site. These plantations followed a specific cultivation pattern, including preparation of the land, installation of sophisticated irrigation systems, and constant vigilance to protect the harvest. The images broadcast by the Mossos of these marijuana fields in the middle of the forest are particularly striking.

The activity of criminal organizations was not limited to the Pyrenees and also extended to other places in Spain. Authorities have dismantled marijuana plantations in Alt Urgell, Pallars Jussà, Pallars Sobirà, la Noguera, and Osona, on the other side of the Pyrenees in the Luchon sector, in France.

After harvesting, the marijuana was vacuum-packed and transported to final destinations, mainly northern European countries, where sales prices for the drug could reach double or triple those in Catalonia.

This record seizure of marijuana was the result of a massive police operation aimed at dismantling criminal organizations operating in the mountainous areas of the Catalan Pyrenees, ending a major source of drug production in the region.

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