THE GUARDIA CIVIL has busted a network of illegal water extractors in the Mazarron area after discovering 51 clandestine wells used to irrigate farmland.

Operation Underwater was launched by the Guardia in March 2022 after a tip-off that farmers were breaking the law in the Rambla da Ramonete.

18 people have been identified for illegally syphoning-off over 2.5 million cubic metres of water said to be valued at around €2 million.

The suspects face charges of crimes against natural resources and the environment as well as water usurption.

Potential penalties include prison sentences of between six months and two years, as well as substantial fines based on the amount of water taken.

The Guardia used ground and aerial means to map out areas that were benefiting from the water supplies including several agricultural greenhouses.

53 farms were inspected with a number of the illegal wells hidden in areas that were difficult to access and covered by plastic or metal sheets.

Pipes from the wells were directly linked to land which otherwise would have been dry.

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