R + D + I reaches marijuana laboratories

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Marijuana is gaining market share in drug trafficking every day and more and more criminal organizations are engaged in this activity. Although this “soft” drug maintains “good press”, as it gains in importance and the economic benefits grow exponentially, its incidence in the crime rate, including the most serious, grows at the same rate. The “overturns” (robberies between the mafias), the settlement of accounts in the form of beatings, kidnappings and even murders are becoming common currency, to the point of being a serious cause of concern for the Security Forces. What had not been discovered until now is that the extremely high profitability of this traffic, which carries fewer criminal risks, would have led an organization to invest in a laboratory with state-of-the-art technology for the manipulation and genetic control of seeds of cannabis.

The operation, a pioneer of its kind, has been carried out by the Civil Guard of the Basque Country and the Tax Agency and during the same fourteen people have been arrested, eleven large plantations dismantled and 2188 plants of different varieties and twenty million “maría” seeds from different parts of the world intervened with an estimated value of one hundred million euros. In addition, 207,000 euros in cash were confiscated, 126 checking accounts with an approximate balance of twelve million euros were blocked and bitcoin wallets were found, which on many occasions are used to launder money.

It was Customs, within the framework of the usual control carried out by this body of the logistics chain of international trade and border control, which detected in 2018 the first indications of the criminal activity of the suspects, whose important business activity appeared to be supported by illegal activities. Specifically, in addition to providing customers with everything they need for crops, it provided them through social networks all kinds of teachings about it, with tutorials included.

The advertising and marketing strategy of the organization was also perfectly studied and was quite aggressive, as it included videos that it also distributed on social networks to announce the cannabis varieties that had been developed in its facilities. The sale of the product was done in person at their commercial facilities, or through email both in Spain and abroad.

The Civil Guard and the Tax Agency discovered that the network used paid growers from Guipúzcoa and Navarra to obtain crops of the varieties of cannabis that were of interest at all times, but the money they gave them was much less than what they later obtained in the market. Another virtue of this way of acting was that it was very difficult to locate the places where the crops were.

It was in mid-September when the operation was launched, baptized as Inxer-Toro, and it was then that the laboratory was discovered in one of the twelve records made. The agents were surprised that the facilities had such advanced technology that it was used to carry out an exhaustive program of genetic evolution of the seed, which, once completed, allowed for mass production. An entire R + D + I department at the service of the organization.

The Civil Guard accuses members of the network of crimes against public health, criminal organization, money laundering and fraud of electricity.

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