The good climate, the geographical location and the extensive colonies of European residents make Spain the perfect breeding ground for criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking, which are in full metamorphosis to expand the business behind the backs of the Police. The country is no longer just one of the main ports of entry for drugs such as cocaine or hashish, but has become the jewel in the crown of marijuana production – due to its high quality. "In Europe they go crazy for it," says an investigator, witness of how drug traffickers are mutating to expand their business.
The data supports it. In a decade, production has multiplied by more than 1,000%. Spain is unique for it. It has a good climate and prosperous land that allows marijuana to be grown in large quantities, at a good price and with excellent quality. A round business. Or almost. And the criminal organizations know that. Some bands that like to be in the country, settling on the Costa del Sol, in the Levant or on the Costa Brava. They go unnoticed among so many colonies of Europeans who invest in our coasts.
The drug map in Spain mutates and this is reflected in the police and judicial data that is handled. From being the recipient of cocaine from South America or hashish from Morocco to later spread to the rest of Europe, Spain is becoming the great producer of marijuana. “There is no other country in Europe that produces like this. The one from Spain is the best”, explains a researcher in the fight against drug trafficking.
This reality has led to the approval by the Ministry of the Interior, in December 2021, of a national action plan against crime associated with the production and trafficking of marijuana. According to the report of the Intelligence Center against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO), in 2021 130 tons of marijuana were seized in Spain, 117% more than in 2020.
And Catalonia –along with Andalusia– is in the lead. The agents seized 17 tons last year, 135% more than in the previous year. Marijuana is grown for about 1,500 euros per kilo and sells for 9,000 euros. Its cultivation is quick and easy. It is planted, harvested and from Catalonia it is put into trucks, postal parcels, vans or heated cars so as not to be found. It is practically undetectable due to the proximity of the border. "He is breaking the entire police strategy," acknowledges a high-ranking police officer.
The initial investment for those organizations that start in drug trafficking is much less than starting with cocaine. Bringing a ship of white powder from South America requires a lot of funding. And higher risk. Marijuana is easier and opens the doors for these organizations, mainly Albanians, to make the leap to big game. The researchers have detected that the weed is only the springboard.
In Catalonia, its production, consumption and export is out of control. The Mossos D'esquadra are overwhelmed. It is within the national Interior plan to fight to stop this expansion, but this community is only one of the problems. Levante, the Costa del Sol, the Gibraltar or Galicia area continue to be hot spots and are increasingly dangerous.
Years ago, when drugs in Spain were practically synonymous with cocaine and heroin, the main damage was to public health. But now it goes further. This "mutation" of drug trafficking in Spain is leaving images more typical of countries like Colombia. Settling scores, inter-organizational wars, kidnappings, assassinations, assault weapons. The day in which the Maradona of drugs in Marbella left the first communion of his son still resonates, but he never arrived at the banquet that he had prepared for him. In the middle of the street, a hitman riddled him with shots for an outstanding debt.
This is happening in Spain and both the Interior and the Prosecutor's Office show great concern about the drift that the matter is acquiring. In the minds of researchers, the Netherlands is increasingly present, which is on its way to becoming a narco-state. The State Attorney General's Office, in its most recent annual report, affirms that this phenomenon "implanted throughout the national territory" generates, in addition to public health problems, others "of authentic citizen insecurity."
And why this drift? It is a power struggle between criminal organizations. As long as the cake is clearly divided there are no problems. The confrontation comes when several fight for the same piece. In the south of Spain there are several very tempting businesses that the mafias want to capitalize on.
Moroccan hashish is still in full swing. According to the same CITCO report, last year 676 tons of this drug were seized, which is 40% more than in 2020. The same happens with cocaine from South America -especially from Brazil and Ecuador in the face of such strong pressure exerted In colombia-. Algeciras is the main port of entry and everyone wants to be around it. In addition, it has been detected that African countries are used as "coolers" and it is necessary to be close to the ports for their movement.
The specific plans that the Ministry of the Interior has been implementing for years to fight against the pressure of drug traffickers in the area are bearing fruit. It was one of the first obsessions of Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska when he came to the Interior after the motion of no confidence in the summer of 2018. That is not the same as five years ago. But it is true that the drug traffickers are withdrawing towards the Costa del Sol and Levante. Also towards Huelva.
The mythical organizations of Sito Miñanco or the Charlines, is the organization of the old guard. Now it's their turn to regenerate in the face of the clear loss of influence. For many years they were essential. Coca arrived through its ports and due to the type of sea, a technique was needed to catch the merchandise. The Prosecutor's Office warns that Galicia, in addition to being an area that maintains significant cocaine trafficking activity, appears to be a "logistical" center for the distribution of heroin, which comes from the Netherlands by road, and which extends its effects to the autonomous community itself , and even to Portugal and Andalusia.
The Public Ministry maintains that the Galician organizations dedicated to this last activity – and that seem disconnected from those dedicated to hashish or cocaine trafficking – “do without” Madrid as a place of passage. In the capital, the drug business is still related to synthetics that are linked to leisure and partying. Near Madrid, in provinces such as Toledo, investigators have identified Chinese mafias that are dedicated to caring for marijuana plantations. The mafias mutate, the drugs vary, the business continues.