MADRID, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- The anti-drugs unit of the Spanish National Police force (Udyco) on Tuesday reported a joint operation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) leading to the seizure of 1,400 kg of cocaine and the arrest of 10 people.
The seizure and arrests were made after members of a Spanish special operations unit boarded a tugboat in the Atlantic Ocean around 1,000 nautical miles off the Canary Islands.
The tugboat "Breath" arrived at the Spanish naval base of Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria on Tuesday, escorted by the Spanish naval vessel which took part in the operation.
Seven of those arrested were Turkish, while the others are a Georgian, a Ukrainian and a Bulgarian.
Udyco believes the boat was probably heading for a European (and possibly a Spanish) port with the aim of unloading the cocaine and then distributing it through the continent.
"We are talking about a Turkish organization," explained Udyco chief Santo Bernal, adding that it was "the third operation we have carried out" against Turkish gangs.
The operation means Spanish authorities have now seized almost 15,000 kg of cocaine on the high seas in 2018 and that "we are managing to stop drugs being landed in Spanish ports".
The police report that the tugboat had been tracked in an operation by the DEA and Spanish National Police for "several months."
The boat had originally sailed from Turkey to the coast of South America, where it had taken on 40 packets of cocaine, each containing 30 kg of the drug in an offshore operation.
When the boat was boarded by Spanish authorities, they found the drugs stored on deck, ready to be thrown into the sea by the smugglers in the event of possible capture.
"This is turning into an important year in the battle against drug smuggling by sea routes," said Elena Manez, the Spanish government delegate in the Canary Islands.