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Spain: Security forces seized largest cocaine lab in Europe.

Spain is the major transit point for illegal drugs heading to Europe.

Police in Spain believe they have smashed Europe’s largest and most sophisticated cocaine lab following a two-year investigation, arresting 25 people, seizing 300kg of cocaine  (with a street value of about £25million)  and 2m euros in cash. The lab was located in the Spanish village of Villanueva de Perales, outside Madrid. In the lab  the paste was processed into cocaine, then vacuum-packed and stamped with the organization’s seal, which was a picture of a key.

As well as cash and drugs, police also seized 33 tonnes of chemicals used to prepare the cocaine for sale, a cache of weapons, 18 luxury vehicles, 470 mobile phones and share certificates worth 50m euros (£42m; $67m).

They said the suspects included Spaniards and Colombians, and they had imported the drug by hiding it in shipping containers of coffee. Those arrested included several Spanish lawyers who allegedly helped launder money made from selling the cocaine. Two lawyers and several staff members at the law firm were also arrested. The group was headed by a Spanish couple and two Colombian brothers who, in turn, allegedly worked in cooperation with Madrid night-club owner Lauro Sanchez, who allegedly was in charge of distributing the drug at his places of business and through other contacts.

The cocaine lab was of great magnitude and with high level of sophistication. The band had decided to go from selling finished cocaine to buying the coca paste itself in South America and then processing it in Madrid, something that made them greater profits.

Around the laboratory, which was located in an isolated house in the country, the group had set up a real fortress, with guard dogs and directional microphones to detect any movement in the surrounding area.

The leaders of the network had heavily armed personal bodyguards with large machetes and Russian-made semi-automatic pistols that had not yet been seen among organized criminal organizations in Spain.