The Spanish government has announced a new series of security measures to fight the soaring rates of drug crime in Campo de Gibraltar, in the province of Cádiz, southern Spain. La Línea de la Concepción, a city within the area, has been overrun by drug gangs and locals have been demanding action for months. A masked drug gang recently stormed a hospital to rescue an alleged drug trafficker who was under arrest, and there are reports that up to 3,000 people in the city are working for criminal organizations.
A masked drug gang recently stormed a hospital to rescue an alleged drug trafficker who was under arrest
As part of the measures, customs authorities will receive more officers “to take apart the economic network” of drug organizations, the Interior Ministry explained on Monday. The extra officers who were sent to the Civil Guard’s Rapid Response Group will also remain in the region.
The government said it will work more closely with Morocco to reduce the amount of hashish being smuggled across the Strait of Gibraltar. The Royal Decree to ban narco boats – rubber speed boats specially designed to transport drugs – will also be ready in the upcoming weeks, said Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido. “They will be confiscated wherever they are,” the minister confirmed in a meeting with locals from La Línea.
The police, Civil Guard and Customs Control will be given “permanent reinforcements” in conflict areas in La Línea, including Atunara, where drug gangs are known to operate. Zoido refused to specify the numbers of officers that will be sent to these areas, saying he did not want to “tip off” the gangs.
The Interior Ministry has admitted the task will be difficult but is confident the added measures will be able to restore law and order. “It is a complex situation. Security is vital and the message is very clear: the rule of law is in force in all of Andalusia to reinstate peaceful coexistence.” In 2017, the amount of cocaine seized soared by 300% upon the previous year’s figure, while hashish seizures jumped by 45%.
The region will also receive €56 million in funding for social programs such as school canteens
As well as the increased security measures, the region will also receive €56 million in funding for social programs such as employment initiatives, school canteens, educational infrastructure and three health centers.
The regional premier of Andalusia, Susana Díaz, says a task force will follow a tight timeline to ensure all commitments are met. The premier added that she was optimistic about the outcome of the new program: “When individuals take on the state, the state always wins,” she said. “And when all the administrations work as one, the people always win.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.