Hip Cádiz beach bar served as front for drug-trafficking ring

Soldiers and a Civil Guard arrested in operation centering on Zahara de los Atunes nightspot

J. Jiménez Gálvez
A Civil Guard officer counts the money seized from the drug ring.
A Civil Guard officer counts the money seized from the drug ring.guardia civil

A trendy beach bar in the Cádiz resort of Zahara de los Atunes served as the center of an alleged drug ring whose associates included three members of the military, a Civil Guard officer and a former Socialist councilor.

In total, 56 people have been arrested in connection with a group, which specialized in introducing hashish into Cádiz and cocaine into the port of Algeciras. Police have seized 716 kilos of cocaine and nearly four tons of hashish in the operation.

“We keep seeing more organizations working at both entry points, but this is the first time we have seen such a big one,” said police sources.

The ringleader was El Longui, the nickname of J. R. M., whose drinks bar in Zahara de los Atunes was a magnet for celebrities during the summer because of the popular concerts he organized there.

The ringleaders maintained a lavish lifestyle through “the abundance of profits” from their drug activities

El Longui had contacts on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar and controlled drug shipments in the Zahara area. His right-hand man, J. M. B. G., supervised the ring’s activities in nearby Barbate.

The hashish was brought in from Morocco inside recreational vessels, under the protection of a local Civil Guard officer and a municipal policeman who were both allegedly paid by the ring.

“When they saw there was a lot of surveillance, they would divert the shipment to Punta Camarinal, a military barracks,” said Civil Guard sources. This is where the three army servicemen helped unload the merchandise.

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The investigation began 11 months ago, following a drug seizure that led to the arrest of several suspects, who included law enforcement officers. In May, another delivery was attempted at Caños de Meca, where investigators photographed the suspects and began tying up the loose ends.

“Those blows did a lot of harm and left them without money. So they turned to Morocco to bring in hashish, even if it had to be in small amounts,” said sources familiar with the investigation.

As the inquiry progressed, 29 homes were searched in Cádiz, Seville and Valencia, yielding firearms, €32,000 in cash, over 100 cellphones, and documents. A former Socialist councilor from Paradas (Seville) was arrested, and the Zahara bar shut down.

Both El Longui and his top aide, who were arrested on August 12, maintained lavish lifestyles through “the abundance of economic profits” that resulted from their drug activities, said investigators.

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