Spanish police said Monday they had seized three underwater drones capable of transporting large quantities of drugs from Morocco to Spain and broken up a gang suspected of manufacturing them.
Officers seized three so-called "drone submarines" which were under construction and arrested eight people in Spain, a police statement said.
"The three -- two of which were being built and one which was practically completed -- were to be delivered to French drug traffickers for transporting large quantities of cocaine," it said.
Police released video of the seized drones on social media and said each one could carry up to 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of product.
🚩Desmantelada una organización que fabricaba #drones y #semisumergibles capaces de cruzar el Estrecho con hasta 200 kg de droga📍Hay 8 personas detenidas en #Cádiz, #Málaga y #Barcelona👉1ª vez que se intervienen vehículos que operan bajo el agua sin tripulación a bordo pic.twitter.com/P81cRwjIVx
— Policía Nacional (@policia) July 4, 2022
Police said it was the first time they had seized such devices, which are officially known as unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).
"These devices could allow drug traffickers to transport large quantities of narcotics remotely across the Strait of Gibraltar," the statement said.
The gang also manufactured aerial drones, with police seizing several large UAVs with 12 motors each and a range of 30 kilometers, more than enough to cross the 15-kilometer (nine-mile) strait between Spain and Morocco.
The gang also built false bottoms into vehicles to transport drugs, officials said.
One of the drug-laden devices was "intercepted when it was on its way to Denmark aboard a tow truck with the intention of avoiding possible police checks," police said.
Their customers included criminal gangs in Denmark, France, Italy and Spain, police said.
Spain's physical proximity to Morocco, a major hashish producer, and its close ties with former colonies in Latin America, a major cocaine-producing region, have made it a key entry point for drugs bound for Europe.
Police said the operation, which lasted 14 months, concluded with the arrest of eight people. Six of the detainees, who are accused of drug trafficking and belonging to a criminal organization, have been remanded in custody.