The Spanish National Police seized 22 tons of hashish being smuggled from Morocco into Spain and arrested eight suspects, including the most important drug trafficker operating between North Africa and Spain, officials said Thursday.

The drug seizure is the biggest ever made on the high seas by Spanish authorities, the national government's representative in Murcia, Joaquin Bascuñana, said.

The hashish was found aboard a ship in the Mediterranean and was packed in more than 700 30-kilo bales.

The drug, which is in its pure form, could have a street value of 60 million euros ($81 million).

The gang running the smuggling operation planned to distribute the drug across Europe.

The police operation targeted suspects in the Mediterranean provinces of Murcia, Almeria, Malaga and Cadiz, as well as in Madrid.

A suspect arrested in Almeria is considered the main drug smuggler operating between Morocco and Spain, officials said.

The suspect ran several transportation and fruit export businesses legally as fronts for the drug smuggling operation, police said. EFE