One of Europe’s most wanted men, accused of running a major trafficking ring that smuggled drugs from Latin America to Spain, has been arrested in a transnational operation involving police from Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela.
Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) also helped Spanish police as they captured Brian Charrington and his son in the Spanish town of Alicante, the culmination of a three-year operation. An additional seven people, including Charrington’s girlfriend, were arrested in Venezuela. Ameripol, a policing agency bringing together the United States and 19 Latin American and Caribbean nations, was also involved.
Charrington’s organization allegedly used a fleet of yachts to transport cocaine from South America to Spain, constantly buying, selling and moving boats to avoid detection. A tip-off about the imminent departure from Venezuela of a boat loaded with drugs sparked the wave of arrests.
Police seized goods worth more than $6.5 million, reported Reuters. More than 200 kilos of cocaine was seized, worth $13.7 million according to newspaper The Daily Mirror (presumably based on the street value in Europe and the United Kingdom).
Venezuelan Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said Charrington was believed to have overseen the smuggling of around 25 tons of cocaine from South America to Europe over the last decade.
InSight Crime Analysis
This is a major pay-off for a long-running transnational police operation, bringing down an influential international drug trafficking ring and a man who has been a key player in the European drugs market since the 1980s.
Italian mafia group the ‘Ndrangheta are believed to be responsible for around 80 percent of all cocaine entering the European market, working with Colombian suppliers. No information has been released about where Charrington sourced his supply from. What we do know is that he used a typical route — Venezuela is a major jumping-off point for drugs travelling to Europe. The United Nations has estimated that 40 percent of all European cocaine is shipped from Venezuela.