Civil Guard officers guard the more than 4.5 tons of cocaine seized last week at a warehouse in Elche, a city in the eastern Spanish province of Alicante. EFE
Alicante, Spain, Feb 6 (EFE).- More than 4.5 tons of Colombian cocaine worth $327 million were seized in eastern Spain in the largest drug bust in the country since 2001, the Civil Guard said Wednesday.
The cocaine was seized a few days ago in Elche, a city in the eastern Spanish province of Alicante, the law enforcement agency said in a statement.
The seizure prevented the distribution in Spain and other European countries of 82 million doses of the drug, the Civil Guard said.
Officers arrested three Spanish citizens, who range in age from 49 to 56, on drug smuggling charges.
The suspects used a leather factory to conceal the smuggling and storage of the cocaine, which was later packaged and sold.
Officers launched the operation that led to the seizure on Jan. 15 following the confiscation of 190 grams of cocaine concealed in layers of leather, the Civil Guard said.
Investigators determined that a shoe company in Elche had imported the skins from Colombia.
The cocaine arrived at a warehouse in Elche last Friday, officials said.
The warehouse was rented by one of the suspects, who had links to the shoe company, the Civil Guard said.
Officers searched the warehouse and found 3,732 packages containing more than one kilo of cocaine each.
All of the packages had been sealed with duct tape and hidden in the cow skins.