THE lightweight RHIB boats favoured by drug smugglers are to be banned by the Spanish government.

The move was announced by Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido during top level talks with Junta de Andalucia President Susana Diaz.

The boats have been outlawed in Gibraltar since the 1990s over concerns they were used to smuggle tobacco.

Traffickers prefer to use these nippy rigid-hulled inflatable boats to ship hashish over from Morocco as they are cheap to purchase yet agile in choppy seas and can outrun police vessels.

Their size also makes them more difficult to spot when travelling at night.

“Wherever they are, they’ll be seized,” Zoido vowed.

Spanish authorities have also pledged to increase co-operation with their Gibraltarian and Moroccan counterparts to track criminals evading working between the three territories.

Zoido added that more Guardia Civil officers will be deployed to the Campo this year to replace those sent to Catalunya to tackle unrest after last year’s independence referendum.

The news will come as a relief to the Spanish police union who stated that one of the main causes of the Campo’s escalating drug problem was a reduced police presence in the region.