IT comes during broad daylight and on an almost-daily basis: Over a dozen men carrying massive containers onto speed boats in Duquesa Port.
Up to 30 bottles at a time, each 50 litres in size, the group load them onto boats in a matter of minutes.
Now shocked expats have reached out to the Olive Press to investigate the cloak and dagger moves which they fear is a system of refuelling narco boats and submarines.
It comes as a hard-hitting Netflix docu-series La Linea exposed narco-traffickers, warning they were being driven out of the Campo de Gibraltar area east into Malaga and west into Huelva.
A number of bar owners and local residents told us this week how they watched the masked men scurrying across the port on an ‘almost-daily sight’ recently.
In a chilling video the group wear hoodies, sunglasses and masks to load up one boat.
Taken on Sunday, one man stops, stares at the video and warns the unnamed expat to stop filming.
Local residents fear that the family-friendly port could soon become like La Linea overrun by criminal gangs if police do not step in and prevent it.
They believe the transfers are taking fuel to larger boats that then go on to Morocco to pick up shipments of drugs.
“Much more needs to be done by police, who need to step up patrols to send a message,” said one expat barman, who asked not to be named.
He added: “I see these guys most days around 4pm yelling in Spanish. They say ‘Hurry up, everyone move, let’s go faster’.
“They stash litres of petrol in vans near the port and run out to collect them, each man will carry a gallon in each hand. It’s always up to 30 men and a very small boat.
“Sometimes they end up dropping the containers into the water.”
He added: “These criminals are doing it right under our noses and we all know about it but there’s nothing we can do. They are too quick, too efficient.
“We call the police but the masked guys can be in and out of the port in five minutes flat. They are here and gone in the blink of an eye.”
The police do sometimes win out over the smugglers. In August the Guardia Civil recovered a 600 kilogram stash of hashish off the coast of Nerja.
One massive seizure of cocaine, worth €40m, was also seized between the Canaries and southern Spain this week.
But much continues to slip through, both in boats and in so-called narco-subs – underwater vehicles stuffed with drugs which are extremely difficult to find when they are on the move.
The Costas have seen a dramatic increase in crime as cartels vie for control of the lucrative smuggling route between Morocco and Spain.
The new Netflix docuseries on La Linea has exposed how the Straits of Gibraltar has become the drug gateway to Europe for both hashish and cocaine – with Narcos travelling in by high-powered speedboats every night from north Africa.
After a huge operation of 600 police last year much of the huge Castanas gang was rounded up, sending out a strong message to other cartels.
But a number of police warned that while the Campo de Gibraltar area had cooled down dramatically since then, it had forced gangs to use alternative areas, west and east.
The dire situation left locals fearing that the family-friendly area of Manilva will soon become overrun by crime – and news of the daylight smuggling will put tourists off visiting the area.
“There’s so many bars here and it is a lovely spot. I’ve worked here for years and it is a little haven.
“But because it is so quiet, these criminals are taking advantage and the reputation if the port is goig down.
“At first I felt scared, now I feel intimidated.”