The Central Court of Instruction number 6 has agreed to the three Ukrainian nationals being detained without bail, all crew members from the Panamanian-flagged fishing vessel intercepted last weekend in the Atlantic, more than 300km south of the Canary Islands, which was found to be carrying a total of 18,985 kg of hashish, while they await trial.
Legal sources have reported that the National Court judge decided to send the three detainees to prison without bail for an alleged crime against public health due to the aggravating factor of this huge amount, the largest such haul by Spanish authorities of notorious importance, after taking their statements by videoconference from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, where they have been since the ship was intercepted last Saturday.
Judicial provision for the operation (the warrant) – which usually must be carried out within a maximum of 72 hours – had to be extended until the authorities were able to ensure the rescue of more than 30 people that the Customs Surveillance Agents had found adrift and calling for help, from a dinghy on the open seas, at the very same time that they were heading to proceed to intercept the fishing vessel.
Legal sources point out that Judge Gadea agreed to delay the interrogations of the detainees to “prioritise the lives of these people over the mission they were entrusted with” in order to ensure assistance and rescue for the more than 30 migrants.
Operation Avio began last Friday, March 26, and concluded in the early hours of Saturday morning with the interception of the fishing vessel, named Albatros Guard VSL, when they were about 170 nautical miles southwest of the island of Gran Canaria. The agents seised 18,985 kilos of hashish and 595 bales. The accused will be detained without bail until their trial.