Infamous Galician drug trafficker José Carlos Pombar Cameán found dead in his cell at A Lama (Pontevedra) prison

From Interpol's most wanted to orchestrating covert operations in Nigeria, the legacy of Galician drug lord Pombar Cameán ends behind bars.

José Carlos Pombar Cameán, a native of A Pobra do Caramiñal (A Coruña) and one of Galicia’s most notorious drug lords, spent years on Interpol’s wanted list before his arrest. However, after a lengthy and storied career in illicit drug trafficking, he passed away in prison, aged 69.

The authorities finally apprehended him in 2018 when he attempted to enter Panama’s airport with counterfeit documentation, having spent 14 years on the run from law enforcement. From his hideout, primarily in Nigeria, Pombar Cameán orchestrated an intricate operation, controlling numerous fishing and merchant ships responsible for moving drugs from South America to Spain.

A Galician group on the ground would then smuggle the narcotics into the country.

Pombar Cameán was implicated in other alleged criminal activities beyond his drug empire. He was suspected of witnessing a vendetta murder of an associate and, shortly afterward, made a swift exit to Africa via Morocco. During his 14 years on the lam, he masterminded all his operations from this safe haven.

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He met his eventual demise inside the prison of A Lama (Pontevedra), where he was serving a sentence for his role in an almost 4,000-kilo cocaine stash. His death, sources revealed to EFE, occurred in the early morning hours and was seemingly from natural causes.

Pombar Cameán’s first conviction came in 2019 when the Audiencia Nacional sentenced him to 10 years behind bars. This sentencing resulted from a 2004 bust on the high seas involving the fishing boat White Sands, loaded with 3,947 kilos of cocaine. While this marked his first conviction, it was far from his first brush with the law.

Authorities had been investigating his operations for decades and had previously tried him in relation to another significant drug bust, Operation Temple. This involved an astonishing ten tons of cocaine on a ship docked in Las Palmas, but he was acquitted of these charges.