Police Discover 1,600 Pounds of Meth Hidden in 28-Ton Marble Blocks Shipped From Mexico to Spain

Authorities in Spain have intercepted the country's largest-ever haul of methamphetamine, which had been shipped from Mexico in massive marble blocks.

Video footage from Spain's National Police shows the dramatic moment officers drilled through the blocks and found cylinders of the drug, which had been intended for European markets.

Suspicions were aroused in August 2019 when authorities noticed the arrival at the port of Valencia of 28-ton blocks from Mexico destined for a company that did not have the right infrastructure or resources to handle such a load.

A joint operation involving Spain's National Police, Civil Guard and tax agency was launched in mid-October into the company supposedly involved in the import and export of marble.

The containers arrived in Valencia with six marble blocks. Investigators said one of them had strange marks at its base that did not look like normal marble.

The probe followed the trail of the blocks to the town of Novelda in Alicante province. The block with the unusual marks was traced to a nearby quarry where it had been buried under debris.

Spanish police said in a press release that when officers investigated the slab, they found 43 packets of plastic-wrapped meth hidden inside the marble in what was "a novel and undetectable system."

The meth had been put into the blocks in Mexico. To protect them for the trip across the Atlantic, they were sealed with resin, topped with a marble cover and mortar. The altered side of the block was put face down so its different surface would not be noticed.

In the first seizure, officers found 776 pounds of the drug. Soon afterward, customs officials intercepted another block containing a further 881 pounds of meth.

After a police raid, five people were arrested and police also discovered five guns, and €150,000 ($192,000).

Authorities also seized assets including 14 vehicles and 19 properties linked to the alleged criminals.

Police said those behind the meth operation had a sophisticated network that drew on a wide variety of skills.

Police said they would have needed expertise in the drilling and handling of marble, both in Spain and Mexico, as well as specialized heavy machinery. The network also had a good knowledge of international maritime trade and customs controls.

"The investigation has revealed the specialization in the criminal activity of those who have been arrested as well as the strong logistical and commercial structure of the organization," it said. It is not known what charges those detained will face.

When contacted by Newsweek, Spain's National Police said there was no further comment beyond its media statement issued on Tuesday.

Packs of methamphetamine
Packs of methamphetamine crystals are displayed in Hong Kong in this illustrative image. Police in Spain had uncovered a haul of the drug which had been hidden in marble blocks and had arrived from Mexico. ANTHONY WALLACE/Getty Images