“We are, in fact, facing a very powerful network, both in terms of logistics and control of the narcotic product itself, until it reaches the final markets and, above all, a network that has very, very large financial powers to be able to have access to these amounts” of drugs, said the head of the PJ's Southern directorate, Fernando Jordão.

On Wednesday, in Albufeira, the PJ seized 1.2 tonnes of cocaine that were inside a truck about to leave for the road and arrested six men in flagrante delicto, from different countries, namely, Brazil, Croatia, Italy and Portugal.

“We have a group here made up of people of various nationalities, which clearly demonstrates the size of this network and, above all, it also demonstrates the organization and all the logistical support behind this type of trafficking, given that this narcotic product originates in other latitudes”, said the official in a press conference.

Fernando Jordão told journalists, that the seized drug “would certainly not be for the Portuguese consumer market”, but for distribution in Europe, since Portugal is normally the “gateway” for the drug to be dispatched to other countries.

The cocaine was intercepted inside a heavy vehicle that was possibly about to leave Portugal, and most of the detainees were caught in the act as they were preparing to transport the drug, not having offered any resistance, he noted.

€30 million street value

“In cocaine trafficking, things are indeed different. As I said, much greater logistical support is needed”, he underlined, not confirming whether the drug, whose market value was estimated at more than 30 million euros, arrived by sea.

Some of those arrested were in hotels and apartments in the Algarve, which leads the PJ to suspect that the traffickers would have a logistical base in the region.

“We are talking about very large amounts and, therefore, they have to be close to where things are happening, as is natural”, explained the head of the PJ in the Algarve and Baixo Alentejo.

According to Fernando Jordão, it is also being investigated whether this network has connections to others operating in the country, possibly with the groups that have been increasing hashish trafficking off the Algarve coast.