Albert Ginjaume: The ex-consul of Finland in Barcelona arrested accused of trafficking in khat, a little-known drug in Spain | Catalonia | The USA Print


Containers with the drug khat seized by the Civil Guard.
Containers with the drug khat seized by the Civil Guard.Civil Guard (EFE/Civil Guard)

The Civil Guard has arrested in Barcelona the ex-consul of Finland in the city, the businessman Albert Ginjaume, for his alleged relationship with a drug trafficking organization that allegedly operated from different countries to introduce khat into the European Union, a drug that is obtained from an African and South Arabian bush with stimulant and hallucinogenic properties.

In the operation, the Civil Guard has seized 3.2 tons of khat or catonin, valued at 61 million euros, in facilities at the port of Barcelona, ​​in the largest seizure ever made in Europe of this type of narcotic substance, little known until now in Spain. In Barcelona, ​​the agents have arrested Ginjaume as a presumed member of the organization, while the rest of the members have not yet been located.

The businessman was honorary consul general of Finland in Barcelona until February 2018, when he was dismissed at the request of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his activities in favor of independence after 19 years in office. The dismissal was due to the link between Ginjaume and “inadequate activities for an honorary consul, which are related to the political situation that Catalonia is currently experiencing,” according to what the Finnish embassy in Spain reported at the time. According to diplomatic sources at the time, Ginjaume was president of an association of honorary consuls that he used to spread pro-independence information about the crisis in Catalonia.

The investigation carried out by the Civil Guard has uncovered a business network dedicated to importing khat, a substance that can be consumed by chewing the leaves or in infusion, although its synthetic variants are more powerful.

The agents began the investigation at the beginning of this year, after learning, thanks to a police operation carried out in France, that khat could be being stored in port facilities in Barcelona. The organization, with branches in different countries, was dedicated to introducing said substance into the European Union through Spain, using a complex business structure to do so, so that commercial operations would be undetectable, as well as customs specialists. In order to evade inspection controls, they falsified customs declarations in such a way that the risk analysis capacity for this type of product was expressly annulled.

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