A huge operation to combat a terror funding network in the Mediterranean has unearthed 11,400 firearms and 100 tonnes of hashish.
The operation, which was carried out by agencies from Spain, Italy, France and Greece and coordinated by Europol, also uncovered 10 tonnes of explosives and led to 100 arrests as it swooped on a range of ships and trucks.
According to investigators involved in the operation, which was also backed by the United States, the criminal network was sending ships loaded with drugs from Turkey to Libya and Egypt. The money from the drugs was used to buy arms for jihadi groups operating in the Mediterranean, such as Islamic State.
Spain’s Guardia Civil was quoted by news site Terra as saying that seven boats have been intercepted, five of them carrying drugs and two carrying arms. All seven boats were travelling from Turkey.
Officials claim the vessels had been bought at auction when they were virtually derelict.
One boat was flying the Bolivian flag and carrying 5,000 large firearms when it was intercepted. Another was flying the Togo flag and carrying 10 tonnes of the explosive ammonium nitrate, as well as 6,400 weapon. It was destined for the Isis stronghold of Misrata.
The investigators claim the criminal network also used trucks to ferry hashish from Morocco to Libya via Mauritania, Mali and Nigeria, with the aim of selling it on to Egypt. One raid intercepted a truck carrying nearly 10 tonnes of the drug to Mauritania.
The most recent raid came on a boat carrying the Panamanian flag, which was conveying 20 tonnes of hashish towards Libya in an otherwise legal cargo.
A total of 109 people were arrested in the course of the operation by the various police forces. All were men and were described as being between 30 and 40 years old, hailing from a range of countries including Syrians, Moroccans, Spaniards, Turks, Indians and Ukrainians.