A Spanish-Moroccan drug trafficking network dismantled to make 'the drug of the poor'

Agents of the National Police have dismantled a dangerous Spanish-Moroccan network that trafficked in drugs to make karkubi, also known as ‘the drug of the poor’. The operation, carried out jointly with the Customs Surveillance Service of the Tax Agency and the Tangier Police Cooperation Center, has resulted in eight detainees and the seizure of more than 500,000 tablets in Spain and Morocco. One of the detainees, the supplier of the drug, was arrested in Alicante. The police operation has also led to the largest seizure of drugs in the history of Spain, with more than 200,000 pills from the benzodiazepine family.

Karkubi is the name given to a narcotic substance that is made by mixing psychotropic drugs with hashish, alcohol or glue. It is originally from Morocco and due to its low price it is considered ‘the drug of the poor’. In the operation, successfully completed by the security forces, the main supplier of tablets of the network has been arrested in Alicante. In addition, the police action has also taken place in Madrid and Lleida. In the latter town the leader of the now dismantled criminal organization was caught.

The police investigation began with the beginning of the summer of 2021. Specifically, in June, when the Moroccan police informed the Spanish that they had intervened a van registered in Lleida with 4,447 grams of cocaine and 361,672 tablets of psychotropic drugs.

The organization, with strong roots in Lleida, was dedicated to obtaining medicines from the benzodiazepine family to, with them, manufacture the so-called ‘drug of the poor’ or karkubi. To obtain the drugs, they falsified medical prescriptions, used individuals with a police record and addicted to narcotic substances. They did it because they are medications that are prescribed to habitual drug users. Later, the drugs were sent to Morocco for the production of karkubi in clandestine laboratories. The resulting substance receives, on the black market, the name of ‘cartridge’, ‘refill’, ‘red vial’ or ‘Guadalupe’ and, among its effects, are possible hallucinations and psychopathies.

The operation was carried out in four phases. the first, last September, started in Lleida. There, one of those investigated, an employee of a parcel company, managed the shipment of two industrial furnaces to Ceuta. Once in Ceuta, these ovens had to be picked up by someone else, who would take them to their final destination in Casablanca (Morocco). The security forces intervened the shipment in the warehouse of a transport company in Getafe. Inside, they found 80,000 tablets. In a second phase, in the port of Séte, in France, the agents intervened another 70,000 pills in a vehicle ready to be transported to Morocco on board a ferry. In addition, they arrested an individual, of Moroccan origin, who was driving that vehicle. A third shipment, containing 62,000 pills, was found inside a suitcase in another vehicle. Its two occupants were also arrested. This shipment was to be sold at some point in the Spanish Levante.

The operation concluded in the middle of last December, with the search of three homes in Lleida and one in Alicante, which resulted in 5 detainees. In Lleida the leader of the gang was arrested. A Moroccan individual at whose home 27,000 euros in cash and 300 pills were seized. The supplier of the drugs was arrested in Alicante, where the agents also intervened small amounts of tablets: samples of the different substances with which the now dismantled organization trafficked.

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