Spain police seize four tonnes of cocaine

Spanish police said Wednesday they have seized 4.1 tonnes of cocaine worth nearly a quarter of a billion euros in one of the biggest ever seizures of the drug in the country.

The cocaine was found at a warehouse in the eastern city of Elche hidden in containers of cow hides that were brought from Colombia by boat and were to be delivered to a shoe maker, police said in a statement.

The cocaine is worth nearly 242 million euros ($327 million) and was destined for distribution in Spain and across Europe, the statement added.

Police detained three Spanish nationals as part of the operation and carried out searches of 16 houses, businesses and warehouses that belonged to the suspects.

The authorities seized two shotguns, a hunting rifle, a box of ammunition, three large machetes, two computers, and six luxury vehicles as well as 6,755 euros in cash during their searches.

It was one of the biggest seizures of cocaine in Spain.

Major cocaine seizures in Spain usually happen at sea. In 2006 police seized three tonnes of the drug in a boat off the Canary Islands in the Atlantic.

The following year they seized four tonnes of cocaine from a boat off the coast of Almeria in the Mediterranean.

Spain's close ties with its former colonies in Latin America, a major cocaine-producing region, and its proximity to Morocco, a key source of hashish, have made it a major gateway into Europe for drug traffickers.