At least 30 people were arrested Monday in downtown Barcelona during a massive crackdown on squatted apartments used for trafficking and consuming heroin and other drugs, according to police in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region.
More than 700 regional investigating agents and 150 local police officers were taking part in Monday’s anti-drug trafficking operation, the Mossos d’Esquadra police said in a series of tweets.
An AP photographer saw scores of heavily armed police with faces covered bringing suspects out of a building and hauling them into police vans. Helicopters flew over the northeastern city’s center for most of the morning.
Police said Monday’s crackdown comes after a two-year investigation into the rings running the apartments.
A court in Barcelona had authorized 40 searches on apartments, also known as “narcoflats,” in the central Raval and Gotic neighborhoods, according to a statement of the regional judiciary administration.
With crime statistics on the rise in recent years, Barcelona residents blame the growing insecurity on the spread of illegally occupied flats used as drug distribution centers and consumption dens, mostly for heroin.
The Catalan police said that before Monday’s crackdown authorities had dismantled 100 such apartments and arrested 139 people linked to drug trafficking during the past two years.