Water thief leaves fun park high and dry

The manager of one of Europe's largest fun parks has been arrested for systematically stealing water for a number of years.

Water thief leaves fun park high and dry
A water park in northern Spain. File photo: .Martin/Flickr

Mariano Valverde, manager of the Aquópolis water park in Villanueva de la Cañada in Madrid, was taken into custody on Thursday by the environmental protection unit of Spain's Civil Guard police force.

He is suspected of fraudulently using 400,000 cubic metres of water over five years — a fraud worth up to €500,000 ($666,000).

If found guilty, he could face heavy fines.

Valverde claimed to have been using water from underground wells managed by the authority which oversees the waters of the river Tajo.

But police now believe the park was actually siphoning water from the key Canal de Isabel II which provides water to the Community of Madrid. 

The park has a water contract with Canal de Isabel II but hasn't used any of its water since 2008.

The Tajo river authorities, meanwhile, say they have never signed a contract with the water park.

Parques Reunidos, the company which operates the popular park, said in July that it had complied with all water laws.

The company operates 11 parks across Europe, with seven of those in Spain. 

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Spanish police seize 4.5 tonnes of cocaine off Canaries

Spanish police announced on Saturday the seizure of 4.5 tonnes of cocaine aboard a Togolese-flagged cargo ship from Latin America which was intercepted off the Canary Islands.

Spanish police seize 4.5 tonnes of cocaine off Canaries

The “Orion V”, which transported cattle from Latin America to the Middle East, had been under surveillance for over two years and had previously been “checked and searched, but no drugs could be found inside, despite the presence of sufficient clues”, police said.

A joint naval and air operation finally made the breakthrough locating the cocaine on Tuesday, hidden in a container used to feed the cattle.

The operation mobilised among others the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre for narcotics (MAOC-N), the Togolese authorities and the Spanish police.

The 28 crew members from nine countries were arrested.

The “Orion V” was similar to another Togolese-flagged vessel, the “Blume”, which was intercepted in mid-January in the same area south-east of the Canary Islands, on which the same amount of cocaine was found.

A total of nine tonnes of drugs have been seized in January, police said in a statement.

Spain’s proximity to North Africa, a key source of hashish, and its close ties with former colonies in Latin America, the world’s main cocaine-producing region, have made it a gateway into Europe for drugs.