police corruption

Spain’s Inspector ‘Cale’: from anti-narcotics legend to drug lord

Head of a police group that held record for cocaine seizures in Catalonia is now in prison himself

Cale's group seized 450 kg of cocaine in the port of Barcelona in January.
Cale's group seized 450 kg of cocaine in the port of Barcelona in January.El País

Few police officers could compare with Inspector Calixto M.G when it came to sniffing out drugs. Some of the biggest hauls in Barcelona were made thanks to him. Calixto would always get the tip-off that led to the exact container on the exact ship coming in to port. Buried among legal merchandise, the cocaine turned up in spades. But curiously enough, there were hardly any arrests: the traffickers were always stripped of their goods but walked away scot-free.

The truth was that Calixto was not only carrying out his work as deputy chief of a drug squad that had chalked up a record number of hauls in the region: he was also eliminating the competition. One of his final busts was in January, when he seized 450kg of cocaine in the port of Barcelona. Again, no arrests were made.

It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last that the drug mafia and the police merge in Barcelona’s port

Legal source

Last September, while his colleagues in other Catalan departments were focusing on the independence referendum, he was discreetly arrested as he emerged from his home. He is now awaiting trial, charged with orchestrating a drug ring that planned to bring two enormous consignments of cocaine – 1,100 kg and 600kg – from Colombia to the port of Barcelona.

“It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last that the drug mafia and the police merge in Barcelona’s port,” says a spokesman for the justice system.

Calixto was not the only police officer to be arrested. Meeting the same fate was the retired Francisco LI. M. Both are accused of providing cover to drug rings while running their own operations. Francisco – alternatively known as Paco and Ruso – was a hands-on man, delivering the drugs and stashing the money. Raiding his home, police found half a kilo of cocaine, €190,000 in cash and a notebook quoting “earnings, quantities and deliveries” with “Cale” or “Justo” – the two monikers used by Calixto.

Officers searching bags containing drugs during the last raid headed by 'Cale'.
Officers searching bags containing drugs during the last raid headed by 'Cale'.El País

Calixto, who had two berths at the port, liked to stay in the background, using his rank at the port for his own ends, according to sources connected to the ongoing inquiry.

Although they were prudent about their telephone conversations, inside their cars they spoke openly and at length, unaware that their vehicles were bugged. Inside Paco’s Mercedes, he and Calixto talked about “splitting the money” and “doing good business” and making “good cash”. Calixto was even taped fantasizing about “buying a boat, going to the Caribbean, buying a ‘thousand and a bit’– the judge gathers that this refers to the cocaine – investing €100,000 and €150,000 [in drugs] and bringing it back here.”

The Kia Sorrento belonging to Saki B, an Albanian who shifted the cocaine for Cale and Paco and who has also been arrested, served as a kind of confession box. “In the privacy of the cabin”, they would talk “without fear or beating about the bush” and “gloated about doing business all day long” according to statements released by the judge on the case.

On October 15, 2016, the two policemen met Saki B, and Rafael P. According to the recordings, Cale told them he wanted the post of National Police Chief in the port, filling the shoes of a colleague who was on the point of retiring. Paco, who used to boast about getting the drug at a better price than anyone else – €25,800 a kilo against €26,000 – said that when Cale got control of the port, “I will negotiate and control imports at their origin, even if that’s in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic).”

Inspector Cale and Paco are thought to have been organizing the two drug shipments to the port through the Colombian go-between Carlos Alberto G, an old hand in the business who was back in the game after serving a long jail sentence. Carlos Alberto G. is a key piece in the puzzle because, following his arrest, it was he who revealed that the drug mafia were enjoying cover from two police chiefs. Thanks to the wiretap in the Kia Sorrento, investigators were able to chart Cale and Paco’s plans as they unfolded: the boat would come from Peru and its arrival was set for November, they would need cars to get to Galicia…

Romeo and Juliet

The operation that put Inspector Calixto behind bars is code-named Romeo, because an earlier investigation into traffickers allegedly headed by the Colombian Juan Carlos Duarte was dubbed Juliet. During raids, documents were found linking Duarte to a chain of people that, according to “new revelations” and “the deductions of appropriate witnesses” – unnamed by the judge due to the confidential nature of the inquiry – led back to the two police chiefs. In Operation Romeo, there was a double-pronged approach – the Mossos d"Esquadra, the Catalan police force, investigated the drug trafficking while the National Police Internal Affairs Department took charge of the alleged corruption by their colleagues.

The months passed, however, and the shipments never arrived. In the spring of 2017, Cale and Paco admitted that they had invested “€140,000” and that they continued to send money “to an address in Bogotá” so that Carlos Alberto G. could buy the dope. Carlos Alberto G., who had contacts in Colombia and Panama, told them that problems had arisen because they had to pay “commissions at origin”. Some of Cale and Paco’s ring started to question the trustworthiness of Carlos Alberto G. But then he declared that he had a yacht with substantial navigational autonomy (8,000 liters) that could be in the Mediterranean by July. Still, the cargo never came.

Meanwhile, Cale and Paco organized for Saki B. to go to Italy to sell 10 kg of cocaine that autumn. The Albanian said he would travel with his young daughter to “avoid suspicion”. Paco talked and talked inside the Kia, mentioning prices, types of cocaine, and talking about transporting the drug in a patrol car. He said that he and Cale wouldn’t use a concealed compartment in the car. “If we are stopped, we’ll throw the product out at the corner,” he was taped saying.

 English version by Heather Galloway.

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