A DRUG cartel in southern Spain’s ‘narco town’ is growing stronger by the day thanks to the return of two ruthless brothers.
Six Cadiz gangs have joined forces to form the Castañitas Cartel, allegedly headed by siblings Antonio and Francisco Tejon.
Police are fearing losing control after realising the clans are now adopting structures identical to the Colombian drug cartels which saw the South American country spiral into a virtual civil war in the 80s.
The AUGC police union has warned recent promises from the government to increase funding and officer numbers are little more than ‘band aids’ and will not be enough.
A whopping 80% of drug-related arrests in Spain happen in Cadiz, compared to 14% in Almeria and just 5% in Valencia.
In the Campo de Gibraltar, at least 3,000 of its 63,000 population are working for drug traffickers.
And brothers Antonio and Francisco are believed to be the head honchos after managing to group together six gangs to form a successful international smuggling operation.
There are around 25 other bands in the region, most of which, at least for now, operate on their own.
But authorities fear they could soon join the growing cartel.
The Tejon brothers have reportedly returned to La Linea after a brief exile in Morocco.
Each of the gangs under their growing empire are said to be responsible for different parts of the smuggling operation, including sea transportation, picking up cargo from the beaches and hiding the drugs in safe houses.
The Tejons clan, including brothers, children, wives and more, are all allegedly dedicated to the smuggling of drugs, mostly hashish.
Police estimate Antonio and Francisco have around €20 to €30 million in cash hidden around La Linea de la Concepcion.
They also have at least 24 bank accounts and became known for allegedly throwing huge parties with prostitutes and paid-off police officers.
They lived in luxury with mansions in La Linea and weren’t afraid to flaunt their cash on social media.
They fled to Morocco to lay low last year after around 30 of their members were arrested, but police intelligence says they are back and this time they mean business.
According to police, they have brought with them a rise in violence and brazen aggression against law enforcers, especially when they have detected a stash.
There have been at least 15 attacks against police vehicles in the last three years, with one recent ramming of a cop car going viral after being compared to a scene from hit Netflix series Narcos.
Meanwhile, gangs have begun hiring ruthless assassins to guard drug lords and precious cargo, while traffickers are dressing up as Guardia Civil to rob their rivals, meaning law enforcers are ever more at risk.
Two small gangs were jailed this week after police seized a batch of uniforms that looked identical to the real get up.
“They do not know if the guards and the police are real,” said Juan Fernández, national spokesperson of the AUGC police union.
“We feel afraid.
“We cannot allow these gangs to organise themselves.”
The Cadiz secretary of AUGC, José Encinas, said the the security forces are ‘very limited’.
Especially because, despite reinforcements, they do not go beyond temporary quotas and end up leaving, which does not offer a definitive solution.
Fernandez has called for an education or employment plan in the area given that 40% of the campo are unemployed.
Among the young it is even more startling, with 80% unemployed.
It means they are easy targets for traffickers looking for new recruits.
Meanwhile, the Guardia Civil of Algeciras, which covers the Campo de Gibraltar, has just 1,100 agents, a third of the size of the drug gangs’ 3,000-strong workforce.
The situation is almost desperate. Traffickers have the latest technology to help avoid detection while their huge profits may have already began paying off police.
That is the fear of police chiefs, who suspect corruption may have begun to creep in.
It is a tactic which was mastered by notorious kingpin Pablo Escobar, who believed everyone had a price and who paid local police millions over the years to look the other way.