26 Apr, 2021 @ 12:21
3 mins read

Marbella: How the Costa del Sol’s glitziest resort became a global HQ of organised crime where gang culture has spiralled out of control

Marbella Arch

MARBELLA has become the ‘global capital of organised crime’ where at least 113 gangs of 59 different nationalities have sent the crime rate soaring out of control, according to a damning report published on Sunday.

“The Costa del Sol is a kind of hub, a sort of coworking center where almost all organized criminal groups in the world have a presence,” a senior member of Spain’s Policia Nacional told El Pais in an in depth reportage.

Describing Marbella as a “UN of gangsters in a globalized world,” the police chief concluded the Andalucian resort has become synonymous not only with tourism but also with crime.

He regretted the situation, where a network of gangs bring in drugs from South America and Africa, across the Strait of Gibraltar, for distribution across Europe.

This myriad of gangs, from powerful mafia structures to criminal gangs involved in house burglaries and armed robberies, collaborate to provide different elements in the complex chain of supply.

Marbella Arch

This includes distribution, the provision of protection, as well as money laundering.

But he added alliances are quick to change and breakdown leading to inevitable rivalries, turf wars and revenge violence.

“Whoever thinks that criminal organizations are like before, pyramidal and with all the sections covered, is wrong,” a public prosecutor told the newspaper.

“They are not cartels, they provide services: we have reached the Uberization of organized crime,” he insisted.

He explained that each group has an area of expertise, from the French who bring in hashish from Morocco to the Irish clans that controlled cocaine and weapons imports.

An enduring feud between two rival Irish cartels – Kinahan and Hutch – is already thought to have led to 20 executions.

But there are also rival gangs from Serbia and other Balkan countries as well as dangerous groups from the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden and members of the Italian mafia such as the Naples-based Camorra continually muscling in.

However, according to one police source quoted by El Pais, by far the most dangerous gangs operating on the Costa Del Sol are British.

“The gangs of Liverpool and Manchester have a special fame and are known for their violence and the nightly brawls in and around Marbella,” read the report.

Add hitmen for hire into the mix and armies of foot soldiers sent by gang bosses to do the dirty work and the place is ripe for violence.

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HAUL: Designer clothes, machete, watch and gun among items seized by Marbella cops

According to the latest official figures the situation had got better, but has significantly worsened since 2018. 

There are now at least 113 organized groups of 59 different nationalities concentrated along the Costa del Sol alone, according to data from the Intelligence Center against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO).

“The diversity of criminal groups in such a small space is a unique phenomenon,” the organisation added.

Police consistently claim they don’t have the resources to fight such crime. The Marbella national police station receives an average of 150 crime reports a day, numbering some 32,000 cases in a year.

The figures for such a small town of just 140,000 people are equal to towns or cities of around double or triple that size. 

And the number of murders and attacks due to ‘settling of accounts’ is soaring.

Much of it largely goes unreported due to ‘a weak press’ in the area and due to many of the victims refusing to collaborate, even report the crimes to the police.

Recently a Polish guy was admitted to hospital with bullets in both legs, shot by a Swedish gang. He refused to testify.

A few weeks ago an Irishman was shot in the face in Nueva Andalucia.

“He refused to collaborate with the investigation,” Marcos Frias, the Organised Crime coordinator for the National Police told El Pais. 

“There are quite a lot of beatings and kidnappings, which occur in the urbanisations (leafy suburbs), in the tourist zones, but they don’t make the press because there is no denuncia and the police are hardly involved,” he added.

“The year has only really just started and we are having incidents of guns and shootings.” 

The alarming thing is the violence is continuing despite a massive clampdown on drug trafficking by the Guardia Civil in the area.

This year alone, there have been 536 police raids on gangs between Huelva and Malaga, primarily concentrated in the Campo de Gibraltar.

Orchestrated by the crack OCON-SUR regiment, they have seized 187 vehicles and 98 boats alone since January, as well as 55 tons of drugs and 19 million euros of laundered property.

Just last week over 200 police arrested 106 members of six different gangs in the area.

Georgian Arrested
CUFFED: US-Georgian suspect being led away by police in Marbella

Since July 2018, 5,536 gangsters have been rounded up between Cadiz, Huelva and Malaga.

But despite the boss of the Guardia Civil Maria Gamez insisting they are ‘attacking the very heart of these organisations’, gang rivalry has not stopped in nearby Marbella.

“Now the violence is rampant,” added Antonio Rodríguez Puerta, head of the UDYCO Costa del Sol (Drugs and Organized Crime Unit of the National Police).

“In times gone by the criminal groups negotiated, they talked. A stash was lost and an agreement was reached,”

“Now we see that, if something like this happens, in most cases they go directly to ordering a hit.”


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