DUBBED the Costa del Crime decades ago, the Costa del Sol has certainly been living up to its nickname over the past couple of years.
From burnt down beach clubs, bombs and assassinations in broad daylight, a lethal combination of a power vacuum, a growing drugs market and a rise in ruthless gangs has seen violence spill onto the streets.
While drug-related crime has long been a feature of the region given its geographic location (just north of hashish-haven Morocco and next to the main entry point from South America to Europe), things have become more violent over the last year and a half.
As recently explained by several experts, a few factors are behind this.
This includes a new ruthless generation of Dutch Moroccan gangs who are looking to dominate the area.
There has also been a huge crackdown on the Campo de Gibraltar, a drug-trafficking hotspot to the west of the Costa del Sol.
This means the business is being forced to move up the coastline.
Additionally, since Ireland and Spain joined forces to crackdown on Irish mafia activity in the area several years ago, the once top dogs were forced to move out to Dubai.
This left a power vacuum which many believe has yet to be filled.
With more than 120 criminal organisations operating along southern Spain, everyone is vying for a piece of the cake, making rivalries and gangland wars almost impossible to avoid.
It is only when these battles happen in broad daylight that we get a glimpse into the criminal underworld, which continues to run rampant in this region.
Since a beach club in Estepona was burned down as a warning in April 2018, drug-related killings have become a much more frequent occurrence.
See the reported incidents since that date below.
April 9, 2018 – Heaven beach club burned to the ground as a warning to owner to pay what he owes to Colombian drug lords.
May 6, 2018 – Owner of Heaven beach club assassinated at point blank range while sitting with his family in the car, just after his daughter’s communion in San Pedro. David Avila Ramos was later revealed to be a huge cocaine trafficker who owed millions to the Colombians.
September 11, 2018 – British drug trafficker Sean Hercules gunned down in Cancelada after engaging in a shootout with police.
September 16, 2018 – A British man is shot, kneecapped and given a ‘Glasgow Smile’ in Puerto Banus, Marbella. The brutal attack was believed to be a warning to other gang members. The unnamed Brit was left in a serious condition with multiple injuries and broken bones.
October 2, 2018 – Spaniard Brian Carmona gunned down on the streets of Estepona before being bundled into a car, tortured, killed and dumped in Algeciras. Expats and tourists ran and hid for cover as the kidnap took place on the heaving promenade.
October 10, 2018 – Bomb blows up San Pedro carwash while another explodes under a car in Benahavis, both warnings from Swedish drug mafias. The Swedish trio behind the bombs were arrested two months later.
October 27, 2018 – Dutch-Moroccan bombmaker Hamza Ziani shot four times in the head and chest while eating sushi with a girl in Torremolinos’ Tiki restaurant. He was in a conflict with the Netherlands’ most wanted criminal, Ridouan Taghi, who has allegedly ordered around 20 deaths to protect his €100 million cocaine empire.
November 20, 2018 – Frenchman, 58, shot at more than 20 times with an AK-47 outside his home in upmarket Nagueles, Marbella. The murder was a settling of accounts between drug mafias.
January 7, 2019 – Moroccan man is shot in the leg outside Kube nightclub in Puerto Banus, Marbella. Motive remained unclear but it is similar to other warnings or threats made by criminal organisations.
January 21, 2019 – Big name businessman Marco Yaqout, who owned several establishments in Puerto Banus, shot to death while driving his Bentley to his home in San Pedro de Alcantara, Marbella. Police ruled the death was related to the illicit drug trade.
March 17, 2019 – Body of French man of sub-Saharan origin, 23, found dumped in Guadalhorce industrial estate after being shot at least 10 times.
April 1, 2019 – British father and son disappear from Spain’s Costa del Sol and have STILL not been found. However Daniel and Liam Poole, 46 and 22, are feared dead from a drug deal ‘gone wrong’ after police revealed a ransom call had been made from Morocco immediately after their disappearance.
May 27, 2019 – Young man of Moroccan origin shot in his leg in Benalmadena as a suspected warning from a rival drug gang.
September 17, 2019 – The body of a 39-year-old man is found dumped on the side of the A-7 between Marbella and Mijas and in an advanced state of decomposition. The body showed signs of violence.
October 27, 2019 – Body of Bulgarian man found dumped in a ditch on the A-7176 road which connects Marbella and Istan, just hours after being shot three times in the stomach and once in the arm. He had no connections to Spain and police believed it was a classic settling of accounts, however the investigation continues.
November 15, 2019 – Dutch Moroccan man shot to death outside property in Marbella Andasol urbanisation before killers made off in a luxury car. His associate was also shot but survived and was rushed to Hospital Costa del Sol.