8 Jun, 2024 @ 14:46
2 mins read

Revealed: How military grade weapons sent as aid to Ukraine are ending up in the hands of drug and human trafficking mafias in southern Spain

MILITARY weapons sent from the West to Ukraine are increasingly ending up in the hands of drug mafias in southern Spain, it has emerged. 

It comes after Guardia Civil officers were unable to seize a shipment of rifles in the mouth of the Guadalquivir river in Andalucia on May 22 after being met with a wall of 5.56x45mm bullets – the standard ammunition used by NATO forces. 

It is just one of many incidents of drug and human trafficking gangs using high-grade military weapons against police in the region. 

One officer who has spent years on the frontlines of the anti-drug operation in Cadiz told Diario de Cadiz that his force is facing increasingly dangerous situations. 

He told the paper: “In 2021, Italian-made NATO rifles were seized in Sanlucar and since then we have continued to see them. 

“This time it was only possible to seize ammunition, but in other operations it was possible to seize American and European-made weapons that most likely entered the black market thanks to the war in Ukraine.”

In Spain’s latest Annual National Security Report, the Ministry of Defense and the National Intelligence Center (CNI) warned that ‘armed conflicts constitute an important risk in the medium and long term, especially in reference to the greater availability of firearms and their diversion into the illegal firearms trade.’

The same report cites sources from Europol and the Policia Nacional. 

In its 2022-2025 Strategic Plan, the latter warned of a ‘risk of an increase in arms trafficking used by both Russia and Ukraine.’ 

In the autumn of 2022 – months after the outbreak of the war – Finland warned that thousands of weapons sent by the West to Ukraine to fight Russia were ending up on the black market. 

Christer Ahlgren, head of tackling organised crime in the country, added that cops in other European countries – such as Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands – had seized assault rifles, pistols, grenades and even combat drones that had been sent as part of European military aid. 

The Finnish commissioner explained that the weapons are leaving Ukraine via previously established illegal trafficking routes – which are mostly used by fearsome biker gangs.

Before Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Ukraine was the second-most corrupt country in Europe after Russia, according to a 2021 corruption index by Transparency International. 

It came after hundreds of thousands of light weapons disappeared without a trace during the Donbas crisis in Ukraine in 2014 – with the majority believed to have ended up in the hands of European mafias. 

The concern of disappearing weapons in Ukraine is so high that US has now sent military teams to ensure the safety of their shipments. 

JUCIL, a Guardia Civil trade union, warned this week that Spain ‘has lost the first battle against the drug trafficking mafias, that of arms control.’ 

The association said it was witnessing ‘with great concern’ how the Guardia Civil officers ‘are increasingly faced with a response of great violence that endangers our lives due to the use of weapons of war by criminal groups’ who ‘control the trafficking of drugs and migrants.’ 

They added: “As civil guards we ask for better means to confront this threat against the entire rule of law, better material means and more personnel. 

“But we also ask for the support of other State organisations, such as the Navy, which has the preparation and infrastructure to face this serious threat that looms against the security of all Spaniards.”

Laurence Dollimore

Laurence has a BA and MA in International Relations and a Gold Standard diploma in Multi-Media journalism from News Associates in London. He has almost a decade of experience and previously worked as a senior reporter for the Mail Online in London.

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