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DRUGS

Spain police union warn ‘legions of youth’ working for narcos

A Spanish police union warned Monday young people in the poorer south were flocking to work for flush narco gangs as they rise in power in an area where security forces are now reluctant to be posted

Spain police union warn 'legions of youth' working for narcos
Archive image showing several piles of high-purity cocaine blocks seized on December 5, 2017 at the Algeciras seaport.

The stark warning came days after some 40 people — some of whom are thought to be linked to drug mafias — attacked nine Guardia Civil police officers on their time off in Algeciras, part of the southern province of Cadiz, a drug trafficking hotspot.   

“Before the mafias avoided us, now this new generation of narcos are challenging security forces directly, they use guns, and they have professionals, we're now noting the presence of sicarios,” Alberto Moya, head of the AUGC Guardia Civil union, told Spanish radio.

“These people employ legions of youth,” he added, pointing to the high unemployment rate in this poorer area of southern Spain as one of the reasons.   

“These people can pay salaries that not even a multinational could pay its executives.”

He added that many police agents didn't want to be posted in the area “because their work is difficult, they can be recognised, they fear for their family.”

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This is not the first incident in the area, where drug traffickers have recently also unloaded drugs in broad daylight and stormed a hospital to free a suspected drug trafficker.

But Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido sought to play down Saturday's incident, in which one of the nine police officers who had been eating at a restaurant was forced to fire his gun in the air to stop the attack.

It was “an act of vandalism, of street violence that doesn't have anything to do with other issues,” he told reporters, apparently denying there was a link with drug trafficking.

He added that out of 10 of the attackers already identified by police, only two had previous convictions linked to drug trafficking. At least one of them has already been detained.

Zoido insisted that more police had been sent to the area, but that social measures were also needed such as fighting youth unemployment.   

According to the interior ministry, 40 percent of all drugs that come to Spain arrive via the province of Cadiz.

DRUGS

Spanish police make ‘biggest ever haul of synthetic drugs’

Spanish police said Friday they had seized a record 827,000 ecstasy tablets as well as other narcotics in what they called "the biggest ever seizure of synthetic drugs" in Spain.

Spanish police make 'biggest ever haul of synthetic drugs'
Police claim the seizure is the biggest in Spanish history. Photo: Guardia Civil and the National Police
In a joint operation, the Guardia Civil and the National Police smashed “the main international criminal organisation behind the production and supply of most of the synthetic drugs in Spain”, they said in a joint statement.
   
Synthetic drugs are manufactured using man-made chemicals rather than natural ingredients.
   
Eleven people were arrested on charges of drug trafficking and belonging to a criminal organisation, including the organisation's Dutch boss.
 
   
As well as the ecstasy tabs, police also seized 76 kilos (167 pounds) of speed, 39.5 kilos of crystal meth and 217 litres of liquid amphetamine with which they could have produced 738.5 kilos of speed.
   
They also impounded almost 400 kilos of hashish and marijuana which they were to have exported to The Netherlands to pay for the purchase of the necessary substances to manufacture the drugs at two labs in Barcelona.
   
The organisation included traffickers from Spain, The Netherlands, Romania, Colombia and Italy and had bases in Barcelona, the southern city of Malaga and the island of Ibiza, all of which are known for having a vibrant nightlife and many dance clubs.
   
Although Spain is considered one of the main drug gateways to Europe, seizures of synthetic narcotics are uncommon as most traffickers usually deal in cannabis and cocaine.
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