By Elena Goçmen Rueda
A DRUGS gang turned to the corrupt supply of anti-COVID PPE protective equipment as easy pickings.
So far 11 arrests have been made in Palma, Barcelona, Gerona, Murcia and Almeria by Guardia Civil backed by Europol.
The case centres on a Barcelona businessman, the alleged boss of the gang, who bribed a public official in Almeria with €150,000 to get lucrative contracts.
Police say it is the first case uncovered in Spain for the ‘irregular’ handing out of public money to buy PPE.
A judge in Barcelona has now remanded in custody Oscar Liria, the former third vice-president of Almeria Council.
He allegedly rigged the award of a contract for the supply of health material to deal with COVID-19, which was awarded to a company from Barcelona which has been linked to the drugs gang.
It is alleged that the bribe, pocketed by Liria, was in exchange for a €2 million contract.
Together with Liria, the judge has sent to prison businessman Kilian Lopez, administrator of Azor Corporate Iberica SL, the company that benefited from the alleged rigging together with a third person who acted as an intermediary.
The money was found in several houses owned by Liria in Almeria, distributed in envelopes containing between €6,000 and €10,000.
The authorities had initially launched an investigation to see if Liria was involved in Lopez’s marihuana trafficking business, which uncovered the corruption case.