The crackdown on drug trafficking in the Campo de Gibraltar has displaced this illicit activity to other areas of the Spanish Andalusian coastline, Spain’s Interior Minister told reporters today.
Speaking in La Linea, Juan Ignacio Zoido dismissed claims that drug gangs were forming into a cartel to maximise their profits, insisting instead that law enforcement agencies were hitting organised crime hard.
Mr Zoido said officers had seized the same amount of cocaine in the first four months of this year as for the whole of 2017.
He said 11.3 tonnes of cocaine had been seized so far this year, including nearly nine tonnes seized in a container in the Port of Algeciras earlier this month.
Cannabis resin hauls were also up, with officers having seized 74.7 tonnes in the year to date, over half of the total for 2017.
Mr Zoido also revealed that some 295 persons had been arrested this year for drug trafficking, the equivalent of nearly two arrests a day.
He added that law enforcement agencies had also hit hard the logistics networks of major crime organisations operating in this region, seizing vessels, fuel, radars, vehicles and warehouses.
To illustrate the fact that much of this activity is being displaced, the minister gave details of an operation in Huelva that led to six tonnes of cannabis resin being seized, along with a fast boat and vehicles.
He said the operation had involved police in La Linea and in Huelva, together with Spanish customs officers.
“The proof that there is no cartel is that they have had to move to another province but they have been intercepted there and everything that they were transporting has been seized,” the minister told reporters.
“As such, I reject that assertion.”
The message was one of “zero tolerance” for drug traffickers, Mr Zoido said, adding that the authorities “will pursue to the end anyone involved in trafficking, or who helps traffickers, or who obstructs the work of law enforcement agencies”.
The minister’s statements were at sharp odds with warnings from organisations representing Guardia Civil officers.
Last week, the Asociación Unificada de la Guardia Civil warned that up to 30 criminal organisations were joining forces in a cartel.
The AUGC said the danger was the cartel was corrupting officials in order protect their shipments.
Main pic via @zoidoJI