7 Jul, 2024 @ 14:00
1 min read

Blood diamond raid on Spain’s Costa del Sol: Armed police arrest alleged trafficker

The suspect accused of trafficking 'blood diamonds' is detained in Malaga Airport
The suspect accused of trafficking 'blood diamonds' is detained in Malaga Airport. Credit: Policia Nacional (X)

SPAIN’S Policia Nacional has arrested a man in Malaga on accusations of trafficking so-called ‘blood diamonds’. 

The suspect is alleged to have headed up a business network that was dedicated to the sale and ‘laundering’ of these illicit jewels, which were mined under conditions of slavery in Sierra Leone, at the hands of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), which was a paramilitary militia.

Spanish investigators believe that the activities of the man directly financed the RUF, thus supporting their efforts in the country’s civil war. 

Revealed: How a cocaine lab on Spain’s Costa del Sol extracted the drug from laced cocoa powder, charcoal and coffee imported from Colombia

The investigation began in 2020 after a legal complaint was filed by one of the civilians who had been forced to work mining the diamonds in Sierra Leone. 

An international police probe led investigators to the man who has now been detained. 

The facts of the case date back to the 1990s, when the suspect is alleged to have set up a web of companies in countries such as Liberia, and which were dedicated to the extraction, sale and export of the blood diamonds. 

The scheme reportedly sold the diamonds as if they had been mined from Liberia. 

According to the Policia Nacional, the main buyer was a Belgian company, which then distributed them in the European market.

The Spanish police arrested the suspect on Tuesday night at Malaga Airport. 

He was arriving from Brazil, where he has been living since 2007. 

Police also searched a large finca on the Costa del Sol, which is the summer residence of the suspect. 

There they found documents and electronic devices which are of interest to investigators. 

A court ordered the man to be held in custody pending trial. 

The civil war in Sierra Leone was fought between 1991 and 2002, and pitted the legitimate government and armed militia against one another. 

The conflict left 70,000 dead and 2.6 million people displaced. 

The United Nations Security Council declared that trade in diamonds extracted during the war using forced labour was illegal. 

Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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