_
_
_
_

Don Carlos, the 78-year-old drug trafficker surprised by undercover agents

The ‘bon vivant’ was living in Marbella, on the Costa del Sol, where he was arrested for organizing a shipment of 60 kilos of cocaine from Colombia to Spain

Bundles of cocaine seized in Marbella (Málaga) in 2022.
Europa Press

He moved around the posh Spanish resort of Marbella in a red Fiat 500, and held his meetings at the Capuccino Café inside the Meliá Don Pepe hotel, a five-star establishment at the foot of La Fontanilla beach, near the historic city center. He liked to entertain his collaborators there to show off his power. And he did so, furthermore, with a strong Colombian accent even though he was born in the northern Spanish region of Asturias. Arrogant, an expert in drug trafficking, with good contacts, he used just enough words to explain his intentions. He had everything under control when he embarked on the task of bringing 60 kilos of cocaine from Colombia to Madrid. Or so he thought. What he didn’t know was that his phone was tapped, his car was marked, and that there were undercover agents at his meetings. Florentino Carlos F. G., aka Don Carlos, was arrested in early 2022 at his favorite café in Marbella. He was later released pending trial: the Marbella Special Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office is requesting 11 and a half years in prison for him for one count of crimes against public health and another one for illegal possession of weapons.

Don Carlos is now 78 years old, and he is an old acquaintance of Spanish law enforcement. His relationship with drug trafficking in Latin America began in the 1990s. During that period, he lived in Colombia for several years, making contacts with the Cali and Medellín cartels. Spain’s National Police says that he surrounded himself “with the main drug traffickers” and that he launched a “gigantic network” devoted to money laundering. Then he moved to Madrid, where he was eventually arrested. In 1998 the Madrid Provincial Court sentenced him to 24 years in prison — which he did not serve in full — for leading an organization that had also kidnapped two women linked to a rival organization. His alleged business ties with the now-defunct Basque terrorist group ETA were also investigated.

Don Carlos moved to Marbella, where he led a pleasant, quiet life. He was well known and respected. Sometimes he drove his car to Madrid to meet his Colombian cronies, and other times they traveled down to the Costa del Sol. He did not suspect that a handful of undercover agents had infiltrated his inner circle for almost two years. Such was his degree of self-confidence that at the end of January 2022 he revealed to them the operation he was carrying out. Investigation sources explain that he was planning to introduce two tons of cocaine from Colombia to Spain, but that the organizations that were going to provide him with the goods wanted to go slower. They were looking to test the route with a smaller shipment and, if it worked, keep up the shipments. They decided it would be 60 kilos at first.

The planned itinerary began at El Dorado airport (Bogotá) and was meant to end in Madrid. The test was planned for February 5, 2022. That day, 24 packages were placed in two cardboard boxes “perfectly packed and sealed” and simulating a shipment of flowers, according to the prosecution’s report. What the senders did not know was that the shipment was being monitored. In fact, an undercover agent of the Colombian police had received the merchandise at the Bogotá airport itself, had analyzed it — with a positive result for cocaine and a total of 59.5 kilograms. From that point on, the cargo was guarded discreetly and followed at all times throughout the journey to Spain. A National Police officer flew on the same plane in case any incident arose.

The prosecution reports that the drug arrived at Madrid’s Barajas airport the next day, February 6. It was taken to the Canillas Police Complex by two officers and then continued south to Seville. Delivery was scheduled for February 8. Officers from the Organized Crime Response Group (Greco) were waiting there to intercept the exchange. When it happened, the police arrested two people: M. F. R. and D. A. H. Z. Inside their vehicle there were several cellphones and €2,140 ($2,300) in cash, as well as 48 packages of cocaine in a false bottom of the trunk.

Money, revolver and cartridges

That same day, investigators detained Don Carlos as he was having a glass of sparkling water at the Capuccino Café in Marbella. He had been supervising the operation in real time from that spot. Later, €173,000 ($186,000) in cash in 50-euro bills were found inside his home, as well as a 22-caliber Remington revolver and 50 cartridges. “You are making a mistake, Mr. Inspector,” he told one of the agents who arrested him.

The prosecution is now requesting 11 and a half years in prison for Don Carlos and 10 years for his two collaborators. There is still no date for the trial, where around 20 officers from the National Police as well as toxicology and ballistics experts are expected to provide testimony.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
_
_