THE shootings and violent crime witnessed in Estepona this summer are ‘normal’ for a town that’s home to international criminals, the Policia Nacional commissioner has said.
Commissioner Fernando Calleja made the comments after declaring the town to be ‘very safe’ after receiving crime rate data from the Interior Ministry yesterday.
Calleja said Estepona is an ‘ideal place to live’ and that its crime is typical of any other town on the coast.
The timing of the comments, coming out on the Day of the Policia Nacional, were unfortunate.
Just hours later, residents and tourists would be ‘running for their lives’ during a shootout and suspected kidnapping on the main promenade.
Calleja added: “It is true that thanks to the potential for money to be made, we are visited to by criminals who wait for tourists at airports, stealing suitcases at hotel entrances or robbing luxury watches. These are the most frequent crimes in the city.”
Mayor Urbano said Estepona’s main security problem is the 23km of coastline it sits upon and the dozens of urbanisations which ‘can be a refuge for criminals’.
“But the town centre is very quiet,” he said.
He stressed that there are no marginal neighbourhoods runover by gangs, as seen in other towns.
But on the recent shootings – not including last night’s – Calleja said: “It is normal because there are international criminals and organised crime members that are settled here and hidden from the police of their own countries or the mafias.
“There is so much drug activity here that naturally brings these vendettas and ‘settling of scores’.”
Calleja added that the proximity of Morocco and the Campo de Gibraltar, and the police pressure exerted there ‘makes it very hot, and traffickers seek tranquility and move to find new dwellings.’
The mayor Jose Urbano thanked Policia Nacional during the ceremony and pointed out that ‘a large part of Estepona’s prosperity is due to security, because there is no economic growth, no increase in tourism, without these objective data and without the subjective perception of security that exists in our municipality.’