Spain’s Guardia Civil seized 900 kilos of cocaine in Algeciras yesterday, a day after breaking up on of the “main” gangs smuggling cannabis resin from Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar.
The two unrelated operations were the latest in a string of similar drug busts as Spanish law enforcement agencies continue their tough clampdown on organised crime in the Campo de Gibraltar.
“We have declared war on drug traffickers and those who help them,” Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said in a Twitter post.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mr Zoido promised “constant reinforcements” for the Campo and said Spanish authorities would prevent “Spain from being consolidated as the drugs gateway for the whole of Europe”.
“We are going to fight against them because this is a scourge that cannot be tolerated,” he said.
“The [Spanish] government is demonstrating that we are tackling drug trafficking across all Spain and particularly in the Campo de Gibraltar.”
But even as the minister vowed that Spain would keep pressure on organised crime, the Asociación Unificada de Guardia Civiles circulated a video filmed yesterday morning in Puente Mayorga in which four men could be seen trying to unload what appear to be bales of drugs on a beach in broad daylight.
The video was filmed at around 9.30am, just minutes before a high speed chase through the Spanish side of the Bay of Gibraltar.
“It demonstrates the impunity with which they operate in broad daylight,” a spokesman for the AUGC said.
The Royal Gibraltar Police confirmed it had been alerted by the Guardia Civil about the RHIB in Puente Mayorga and had been standing by ready to assist, although the vessels never entered British waters during the chase.
Law enforcement agencies in Spain are waging an intense crackdown on organised crime in the Campo area and the wider Cádiz province amid concern that smugglers have become increasingly brazen in their tactics.
Last week hundreds of people gathered in Algeciras to protest against the increasingly violent drugs trade in the Campo, which is plagued by high unemployment.
The AUGC and other law enforcement unions have called for additional resources to be permanently posted to the Campo and for a wider strategy to generate employment, promote education and offer viable alternatives to youngsters in the area.
But despite the deep concern across Campo society, the drug traffickers are under intense pressure, as evidenced by the latest arrests and seizures.
The cocaine was found in a shipment of fruit that arrived in the Spanish port from South America after officers obtained intelligence that dockers were facilitating the transit of the drugs.
A total of 10 people were arrested – nine Spaniards and one Romanian – including two dockers and two truck drivers who were allegedly responsible for transporting the drugs from the port.
In a separate operation, the Guardia Civil said on Sunday it had dismantled one of the principal organisations smuggling hashish into Spain.
Officers arrested 12 people and seized a machine gun – a WWII-era Sten gun – alongside ammunition, a bulletproof vest and €190,000 euros in cash.
Mr Zoido said the operation “has broken up one of the main criminal organisations dedicated to the introduction of hashish from Morocco to the Campo de Gibraltar.”
Two weeks ago police arrested 14 suspected smugglers and seized drugs and boats allegedly used to run hashish across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco.
Spanish police also announced their biggest-ever cocaine seizure in April, when they found 8.7 tonnes hidden in a container ship that arrived from Colombia in the port of Algeciras in Cadiz.