THE boss of one of Andalucia’s biggest drug gangs, known as the ‘Messi of hashish’, has been arrested.
Named only as ‘Jesus H’, police arrested the head of the Los Pantojas clan yesterday in Chiclana de la Frontera.
The drug kingpin was detained as he enjoyed a family lunch in a beachside restaurant in a ‘luxury area’ of the town, a police source told Europa Press.
The man is understood to have controlled ‘practically all transport’ of hash from Morocco into Cadiz.
He was snared following a Policia Nacional ‘search and arrest’ operation and his detention was described as a ‘huge blow for the region’s hash network’.
His charges include ‘membership of a criminal organisation’ as well as ‘drug-related’ charges.
It comes just a month after dozens of fellow alleged Los Pantojas gang members were held following a joint Guardia Civil and Policia Nacional investigation.
On May 25, some 36 people were arrested in Operation Caniche, with at least 18 understood to have been jailed.
Police seized some 4,300 kilos of hash, 19 vehicles, electronic equipment, phones, a submachine gun, another firearm and cash.
The haul also included nautical equipment, jet skis and nine semi-rigid, recreational and fishing boats.
‘Semi-rigid’ boats, also dubbed ‘RIBs’, ‘gomas’ or ‘narco boats’ are the preferred method of transport for drug traffickers shipping hash from North Africa to Spain.
Huge outboard motors are added to the vessels’ lightweight frames, which makes them suited to evading police at sea.
A probe into the Los Pantojas gang, which centred on head honcho ‘El Pantoja’ was launched in April 2019.
The Spanish authorities suggested the man had been linked to the drug trade since his youth, before ‘rising through the ranks’.
The ‘rising star’ is then understood to have been taken under the wing of the drug trafficker Abdellah El Haj, after gaining his trust.
He is understood to have evaded law enforcement on previous occasions, earning the nickname ‘the Messi of hash’, before turning to ‘security and logistics’ work for the gang.
Police said that the gang was composed of several groups, who ‘did not hesitate to use violence’.
‘El Messi’ is said to have employed a ‘lieutenant’ who took charge of ‘land and sea’ operations.
The gang worked day and night, including using pleasure boats, and would import at least half a tonne of hash at a time.
Using ‘semi-rigid’ boats at night, they were able to transport more hash, with the vessels typically able to carry around three tonnes of hash at a time.
The Olive Press revealed at the weekend how drug runs across the Mediterranean had left British expats at one Costa del Sol urbanization ‘fearful’.
On Saturday morning, the latest incident saw bales of hash and abandoned jet skis strewn across an Estepona beach, while on previous occasions locals were ‘threatened with death’.
One Brit resident said armed police staking out the area had given her the ‘heebie-jeebies’ and she was worried about ‘drug lords tracking her down’.