Police in Madrid have broken up a sophisticated “cocaine hotline” gang that allegedly used a call centre and a fleet of motorbikes to ferry the drug to more than 2,000 customers with a guaranteed delivery time of 20 minutes.
The network apparently sold its wares in single doses bearing a seal of quality and operated a loyalty scheme to reward its best customers.
Investigators also discovered that the gang had found ways to adapt to Spain’s strict Covid-19 lockdown, which came into effect on 14 March and which ends this Sunday.
Instead of delivering to customers’ homes, it arranged for the drugs to be handed over in supermarkets close to where its distributors lived. While movement was severely restricted during the beginning of confinement, people have always been allowed out to buy food.
On Wednesday, Spain’s Policía Nacional said that 28 people had been arrested at the end of a 12-month investigation that had culminated in the confiscation of €85,000 (£76,000) and almost 4kg of cocaine.
“The investigation began a year ago when officers notices several sales of single batches of cocaine,” the force said in a statement.
“The speed and manner in which the transactions were carried out led them to suspect that this wasn’t the usual modus operandi. Subsequent surveillance and inquiries established this was a criminal organisation dedicated to the distribution of cocaine using a ‘coke hotline’.”
Officers uncovered a complex set-up in which phone orders were relayed to a network of 25 distributors in eight different parts of the Spanish capital. Cocaine was then delivered to customers’ homes – or workplaces.
“Once investigators confirmed the existence of the criminal network and established the parts played by each member of the organisation, they put together a team to arrest them and conduct a simultaneous search of 21 addresses,” the statement said.
“The operation, which involved 250 officers, resulted in the arrest of 28 people, the recovery of €85,000, almost 4kg of cocaine, 10 motorbikes and dozens of mobile phones – in addition to items related to drug dealing, such as precision scales, wraps and seals.”
The post Madrid police break up ‘cocaine hotline’ gang appeared first on The Guardian.