A TOTAL of 13 gangs have been the leading cause of a resurgence in mafia activity along the Costa del Sol this year.
According to police sources the organised crime gangs of different nationalities are behind more than 20 violent incidents that have made the headlines, mostly this summer.
A series of shootings, kidnappings and a so-called ‘Glaswegian smile’ are just a few of the attacks that have made international news.
“While there are at least 20 groups operating here there are 13 which lead the pack,” a Policia Nacional officer has claimed in an El Espanol report.
“They make up a triangle linking Marbella, Estepona and Fuengirola and are involved in a myriad of activity from arms and drug dealing, extortion, money laundering, robberies, pimping and more.”
He added that Marbella and its surrounding areas have the highest concentration of criminals in Spain and includes Italians, Russians, Irish, English, Kosovars, Colombians, Swedish, Romanian and Danish.
“This is the United Nations of bad guys,” the officer told El Español newspaper.
While crime in general has declined, the mafia activity has done the opposite, hence a surge in violent episodes with over 20 being investigated this year.
And according to Marbella se Queja spokesman Diego Escalona, Marbella’s unique cosmopolitan mix is perfect for such crimes.
“A Swede, an Englishman and an Irishman can pass easily unrecognised here. Nobody questions them when they have money to spend,” he said. “And there are loads of lawyers happy to help set up companies and businesses to help launder money.”
He added: “On top of that we have 60 less police officers in Marbella after resources were pulled towards the Campo de Gibraltar, we are at historical lows.”
According to the sources the campaign in the Cadiz region has taken attention away from the Costa del Sol over the past two years.
The Mafias: A breakdown
The Italians, known as the Neapolitan Camorra, have been in the area for decades. They are dedicated to hashish and cocaine as well as laundering money.
Their cash is invested into restaurants on the Costa del Sol, many of them in Puerto Banus, according to the Policia Nacional source.
And when there is a need to ‘settle accounts’, there are many an Italian assassin ready to carry out the job.
The Russians primary focus on the coast is laundering their ill gotten gains.
The last two years has seen a major disruption to their network in Spain. On August 6 this year, Lasha Barateli, AKA The Worm, was arrested in Marbella while plotting to murder another mafia compatriot in a bid to rebuild the organisation.
It came after the Spanish Levante operation saw 129 people arrested in a huge operation against the Russian mafia.
Just last year Alexander Grinberg, president of the Marbella Football Club, was arrested for allegedly trying to launder more than €30 million for the Solntsevskaya and Izmailovskaya gangs.
English and Irish
The English and Irish focus their activity on cocaine, hashish and marijuana – and they aren’t afraid to ‘settle accounts’, according to the lawyer cited in the report, who works with several high level criminals.
They are the main distributors of drugs in the UK.
Illegal arms trafficking is also a market for the Irish.
Albanians, Kosovars, Bulgarians and Romanians
“They touch absolutely everything,” claimed the Policia Nacional officer, who has been fighting organised crime for years.
“Drugs, hired killers, robberies of luxury homes and high-end cars, prostitution… they do not say no to anything.
“A lot of them are ex-military.”
Swedish, Danish and Dutch
These three are focused on the exporting of cocaine and hashish back home – mostly because of the guaranteed profits.
If a gram of cocaine is €60 in Spain, it can fetch triple the price in the likes of Sweden.
The Swedes’ presence has not gone unnoticed this year after one was shot dead at the gates of his home in Fuengirola by a hitman on a bicycle.
The Colombian mafia are here for three reasons: Cocaine, kidnappings and to be hired killers.
If an organisation needs a debt collected or someone ‘dealt with’, they call the Colombians.
They beat, torture, kidnap children of other criminals and if they have to, kill.
The big cartels, which send tonnes of cocaine via Algeciras (Cádiz) and Valencia, have begun to install trustworthy people on the Costa del Sol to manage their business.
They don’t trust anyone else and need to know when the merchandise arrives, who receives it and, above all, that they pay.
They are the masters of hashish.
Every day they bring this drug from Morocco aboard semi-rigid boats.
They also control brothels, although more in the north of the country, mainly on the border with France.