Over 800 people were suddenly evacuated on Saturday night from El Club Paradise, one of Europe’s largest brothels, after an anonymous caller alerted police about a bomb.
It was the second time in a week that the controversial establishment, located in the Catalan border town of La Jonquera, had received a bomb threat from unknown individuals. Although this time no explosives were discovered on the premises, on Christmas Eve the Mossos d’Esquadra did find a vehicle parked at the door containing two butane gas canisters and one kilogram of dynamite and TNT. The Opel Astra containing the dangerous material was left there by five masked individuals, according to investigators.
Saturday’s incident brings to three the number of violent attacks against El Club Paradise since it opened over two years ago.
Police believe that the attacks are part of a vendetta between prostitution kingpins in a highly disputed area of Girona province that attracts hundreds of clients every weekend, mostly from France. The sex trade takes advantage of the fact that prostitution is not regulated by any laws in Spain; it is neither legal nor illegal, and therefore tolerated.
Local residents and law enforcement officials are worried about these violent incidents and fear the arrival of armed and organized rings aiming to take control of the booming business.
The owner of El Club Paradise, José Moreno Gómez, was sentenced to three years in prison last March for heading a human trafficking ring that brought Brazilian women to Spain illegally to work at the brothel.
La Jonquera Mayor Sonia Martínez has repeatedly expressed a desire to shut down the establishment, despite the fact that the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia allowed it to obtain an operating permit in the first place. The Catalan commissioner for internal affairs, Ramon Espadaler, has ruled out the possibility of an immediate closure because the business has all the necessary licenses and doing so would be “out of place.” Meanwhile, Espadaler has guaranteed “a frank dialogue” with the city of La Jonquera.
Over 65,000 people have signed an online petition at Change.org to have the brothel closed for good. The initiative came from Mabel Lozano, an actress and film director who has been an active campaigner for years against trafficking rings.