Spanish Police Seize $131M Worth of Drug Money

Spanish police seized property, luxury goods and cash worth $131 million that was linked to drug trafficking, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

Investigators followed money trails during 2007 from drug sales to property, bank accounts and cars including Ferraris, which were then confiscated, the ministry said in a statement.

Among items seized were 102 properties, including luxury seaside mansions, which the ministry said traffickers had bought to try to launder the proceeds of drug dealing.

Spain is Europe's largest consumer of drugs such as cocaine and hashish, the U.S. State Department said last month. It is also a major transit point for narcotics shipments from South and Central America, it said.

One in five of the European Union's cocaine users lives in Spain, and 3 percent of its population are regular users, the department said in its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

Spanish investigators found drug proceeds returning to South and Central America were often channeled through Colombia, Miami and the Caribbean, while money derived from heroin sales was largely sent to the United Arab Emirates, the ministry said.

Spain is viewed as the principal entry, transshipment, and consumption zone for large quantities of South American cocaine and Moroccan cannabis destined for European consumers.