Drug traffickers use the coast of Levante and Catalonia to unload drug shipments due to pressure in the Strait

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11/09/2020 Material seized in Andalusia by the Civil Guard, which has arrested 16 alleged members of an organization that introduced hashish and another that provided vehicles to drug traffickers POLITICS SPAIN EUROPE ANDALUSIA CIVIL GUARD

The Civil Guard is aware that the “intense pressure” exerted in the five years of the Special Security Plan for the Campo de Gibraltar has led the leaders of the main drug trafficking networks that operate in the south of Spain to disperse drug stashesmainly hashish, to areas of the Levante coast, including increasingly “fairly more frequently” Catalonia and even Portugal.

The plan was launched in mid-2018 after months in which the loss of the principle of authority was questioned. “In these five years the message has been sent that means are being put in place to reestablish the principle of authority,” he said in an interview with Europa Press. Ernesto Seguracommander of the Civil Guard at the Regional Center for Analysis and Intelligence against Drug Trafficking (CRAIN), who clarifies that there was no loss, but there was “deterioration of the principle of authority.”

This police official recognizes that the ringleaders “have had a lower profile for some time”without making as much ostentation as happened with one of the 'Castaña', who participated in a video clip when he was on the run, or with the release of one of the members of this clan - who has sat in the cell this year in a macro trial - upon being rescued when he was in police custody at a hospital in La Línea de la Concepción.

In 2018 I alsoA minor died in Algeciras after the impact of two boats and for weeks the confrontations between 'narcos' and police multiplied to try to keep their merchandise, as well as videos on social networks of stashes on beaches in broad daylight.

Now They act with more “sophistication” both for their encrypted communications using tools such as Encrochat, and for laundering, in many cases in a similar way in the case of hashish to that of the gangs that traffic cocaine, that is, resorting to front companies or cryptocurrencies and not to the classic hiding place in double fund of cash or investment in housing and other properties such as cars.

Another increasingly frequent aspect is that the 'narcos of the south' engage in alliances between drug trafficking gangs to transport hashish from Moroccofor which they "subcontract services" to other organizations that they have under their control and can locate in areas far from the Strait of Gibraltar and that, a priori, they consider "less pressured" from a police point of view.

In this sense, the police officer warns of two issues: More and more firearms are seized that they use to protect themselves from possible 'overturns' – robberies between gangs – and also from the growing concern about the collection of large quantities of gasoline without safety measures and then transport them in narco-boats on routes that involve a longer trip, with more time in the water.

Like the Prosecutor's Office in its annual report, Commander Segura points out the “danger” that gasoline is stored without control in warehouses and garages of buildings poses to other citizens. It has been detected that drug traffickers carry out robberies at gas stations low-priced or in sparsely inhabited areas and they have even gone so far as to 'buy' workers to ensure this vital supply to launch drug shipments by sea.

In this sense, it advocates reflecting on the need to carry out legislative changes so that this practice, if linked to drug trafficking, faces criminal reproach and not just an administrative sanction. “It would be important, as happened in its day with the decree on drug boats,” he points out in relation to the norm approved in 2018 and which pursued the use of these boats as a “prohibited genre.”

Commander Segura reviews the evolution of the Campo de Gibraltar Security Plan from the “ground zero” of the Cádiz municipalities of Algeciras, La Línea de la Concepción, Tarifa, San Roque or Los Barrios to the current six Andalusian provinces to which it applies, which in 2022 alone yielded a result of 5,827 arrests and 273 tons of drugs seized by the State Security Forces and Bodies: 80% was hashish, 11% marijuana and around 8% cocaine.

Reports from the Ministry of the Interior consulted by Europa Press also reflect the “territorial expansion” of the 'narcos of the south' – another hot spot is the Guadalquivir River – in response to the police deployment in the Strait of Gibraltar, where 858 operations were carried out in 2022 which left 721 arrests for crimes related to drug trafficking and smuggling.

The number of operations rises to more than 4,600 including the six provinces currently covered by the security planof which around 10% have focused on money laundering networks and other related crimes, something that the commander of the Civil Guard highlights as key, since the dismantling of assets is what really damages these criminal structures. .

The police official recognizes that the drug traffickers of Campo Gibraltar, among whom there are media nicknames such as 'Los Castaña', 'Messi del Hashís', 'El Pantoja' or 'El Tomate', manage to recover to operate "despite the growing difficulties due to the successive police coups.”

Preventively, now They resort more frequently to drones and marine radars that they place in safe houses to detect police patrolling of maritime service vessels. Their capacity to adapt is notable because they have economic resources, as shown by the fact that drug boats can range from a single engine and eight meters in length to others with four engines, 14 meters in length and the capacity to carry 4,000 kilos at a speed of about 110. kilometers per hour.

At the head of these organizations are 'capos' of about 30 and 40 years old, They are surrounded at the top by relatives or very close people, with strong roots in the Strait area and also with contacts in Morocco, a country that is one of the world's largest producers of hashish.

The Ministry of the Interior led by Fernando Grande-Marlaska highlights that it has invested almost eleven million euros in material and technological resources, and that the Civil Guard and Police staff in the six provinces where the 'anti-drug' plan is applied has grown by 6 .7%, to exceed 24,500 troops.

Police unions, for their part, have been demanding for years the declaration of a Special Singularity Zone (ZES), which would imply socio-labor incentives and give more stability to the workforce. “Our challenge is to continue complicating their lives, although this is not just a police problem,” comments the commander at the head of CRAIN about the main drug trafficking networks, an intelligence center that acts as the 'brain' by integrating agents from the Information Service. , Internal Affairs - to detect possible cases of corruption -, experts in economic crimes and the Judicial Police or the GAR, the elite group for the execution of high-risk operations that was used in the past in the fight against ETA.

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