UK police call on Guardia Civil to help find underground drug factories

Guardia Civil travelled to the UK to collaborate with Lincolnshire Police in order to successfully locate four underground cannabis plantations.   In scenes reminiscent of hit TV series, Breaking Bad, the drug factories were discovered in several ‘bunker’ like locations, more than six metres deep and buried under tons of waste from a recycling plant as camouflage.

The collaboration arose as a result of Operation Hannibal, in which the first clandestine “underground” tobacco factory in Europe was dismantled by the Guardia Civil in the province of Malaga.  With the help of Spanish officers, a similar police operation was carried out in Skendleby, near the East Coast of the United Kingdom.

Specialists from the Guardia Civil travelled to the UK earlier this month, at the request of the Lincolnshire Police, to collaborate with them in the search and location of illegal tobacco and drug production.

The police operation was carried out at a farm located in Skendleby, Lincolnshire where after several days of searching, a total of four bunkers were located more than 6 meters underground.

The bunkers were made up of 12 freight containers.  Access to the containers was hidden, with security measures also in place around the farm.  As well as being an agricultural and livestock farm, the facility also had a recycling plant with more than 300 tons of illegal waste, which made locating and accessing the bunkers extremely difficult.

Three people were arrested and according to British authorities, the value of the seized substances would exceed £550,000.

Spanish experts were called in as advisors following the success of Operation Hannibal which resulting in the dismantling of an international criminal organization, based in the province of Malaga.  The gang, led Britons, had started up an illicit underground tobacco factory in the town of Monda (Málaga) throughout 2019, the first “underground” factory located in Europe. The Malaga facilities were hidden 4 metres underground, below horse stables, where both the material and machinery necessary to produce 3,500 cigarettes per hour were housed.  The factory was manned by Ukrainian workers.  In addition to counterfeit tobacco, a large amount of marijuana was seized.