A Barcelona cannabis association has been closed by the police during operation MATUJO, which has been running since July 2016.
The association had been targetting tourists, including minors, for the sale of cannabis hash and jelly beans contained THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
The La Guardia Civil y la Guardia Urbana of Barcelona carried out the closure and arrested five members of the club, while four others are under investigation for alleged drug trafficking and public health offences.
The investigation began last summer after police received different reports and information about the alleged illegal activities of a cannabis association set up in 2013, based in the Raval neighborhood.
This cannabis club had already been closed by the municipal authorities on several occasions for various administrative irregularities, closures that were still systematically violated by those responsible for the premises in order to continue with their activities.
These complaints and information led to the organisation at the end of July of a joint investigation team formed by the Civil Guard and the Guardia Urbana of Barcelona.
The investigators determined that some of the members of this Association, Spanish citizens and foreigners living in Barcelona, could be using the social premises to engage in drug trafficking, mainly among tourists seeking cannabis in various forms.
Several members of the association, calling themselves “green agents”, were approaching foreign travelers, mainly on the Ramblas of Barcelona and its surroundings, and accompanied them to the club’s headquarters.
In order to be able to access the premises, regardless of their age, the tourists were issued the membership cardfor €20. The intention was to purchase narcotic substances without limitations during their stay in Barcelona, both for consumption inside the premises and outside of it. The association’s representatives promoted the the appearance to the tourist, that this practice was legal.
On several occasions the agents simply sold substances in the streets.
This alleged criminal conduct showed that the activity of the association contradicted the judgment of the Supreme Court of July 24, 2014, which established as one of the criteria necessary for the existence of self-consumption that consumers: “were persons of certain criteria, because only in this way will it be possible to evaluate their age and conditions”.
It also violated the manual of good practices issued by the Federation of Cannabis Associations of Catalonia (FEDCAC), by selling the substance immediately, without waiting 14 or 15 days after registration in order to avoid tourist consumption.
The cannabis was given on the premises alongside alcohol and various audio-visual and musical methods, in contravention of the regulations specifying that an association, for the purpose of smoking or similar purposes, can not offer such additional stimulation.
In mid-August the agents entered the local headquarters of the Association, removing some quantities of drugs and documentation and went on to the arrest of the person who appeared to be the head of the same. The premises were administratively sealed.
A few days later the investigators noticed that members of the Association had broken the seal conditions and resumed their illicit activities.
The court in charge of the case ordered another entry and registration in the premises of the Association, seizing on this occasion new narcotic substances including marijuana and hashish (THC*, CBD*, CBN*, THCV*) and goods likely to contain drugs in their composition .
At the end of September the premises were formally closed.
Drugs in sweets
The sweets with possible content of marijuana was sent to the National Institute of Toxicology in Barcelona to determine its composition.
These results have been released this week, confirming that the treats presented had among their compounds THC*.
The ingestion of these sweets carries an added risk since the delayed effects of the narcotic substance are not noticed until digestion, removing control of the substance with the consequent risk of overdose.
No less alarming is the fact that it is a typical edible article and of great attraction for children. The innocuous appearance of the treats, without any warning or indication of the presence of drugs in their composition were wrapped in transparent plastic without any type of anagram, mark or list of components. These could have dangerous effects on young people.
The now closed Association
The Association, according to the documentation analysed by the researchers, was composed of more than 16,000 members of multiple nationalities, mostly tourists passing through Barcelona and including some children. During the two months that the investigations lasted, more than 2,000 new associates were accredited.
The operation has been completed with the following result:
Five detainees (one Spanish, one Hungarian, one Colombian, one Moroccan and one Ivory Coast citizen) and four investigated (two Nigerians, one Swedish and one Italian).
Removed by the police were:
- 24 marijuana packets.
- 5,945 grams in marijuana buds, with a value of 29,962 euros.
- 269 grams of hashish, with a value of 1,700 euros.
- 212 sweets containing narcotic THC, with a total weight of 3164 grams. They lacked labeling or indication of their composition or contained drug
- 74 cigarettes bundles – ready rolled.
- 1,515 euros in cash.
- 4 scales used for the weighing of substances.
- Substantial documentation of interest for research.
- THC* tetrahidrocannabinol
- CBD* cannabidiol
- CBN* cannabinol
- THCV* tetrahidrocannabivarina