The drought has become an unexpected ally of the Mossos d'Esquadra this year as it has slowed down marijuana production in outdoor plantations in Lleida. This was stated by Jordi Fadurdo, head of research at the ABP Segrià - Pla d'Urgell - Garrigues, who also stated that the lack of water has caused a high "mortality" of plants in many of the crops that have been dismantled.
Some plantations that the police see are becoming more and more "professional" and adapt to adverse climatic conditions with greenhouses that protect the plants.
The Mossos warn that the criminal organizations behind these crops increasingly function like large multinational companies.
The Mossos d'Esquadra are ending a campaign against outdoor marijuana crops in Lleida, one of the most intense in memory. Furthermore, and for the first time, they have encountered systems that they had never seen before, as is the case of the plantation in 14 greenhouse tunnels that was dismantled in Almatret, with 1,800 plants.
Jordi Fadurdo highlights that this "specialization" is due to adverse weather conditions and equates it with other conventional crops, such as strawberries, which are planted in greenhouses to protect themselves from the cold or heat.
The Mossos consider that if a greater volume of plants in these crops has not been seized, it has been due to the severe drought that exists.
In many plantations, dead plants have been found that have not taken root due to lack of water. This is the case of another plantation also located in Almatret this summer in which there were more than 2,000 plants. It is estimated that without water problems that caused high mortality, around 5,000 could have been found.
Another circumstance that the Mossos d'Esquadra are encountering is that there are no longer marijuana plantations hidden among the corn. It had been a common practice in recent years, since the marijuana cycle runs parallel to that of corn; It is planted in March and harvested in September. From the air, with the help of drones or helicopters, they could be detected very easily, according to Fadurdo. For this reason, criminal organizations have decided to locate the crops in areas far from the population and difficult to access.
This year, large plantations have also been located in wooded areas of the Pyrenees, such as Soriguera or Vall Fosca, in Pallars, and also in Alt Urgell.
Apart from being located in points very far from the urban area, they are strategic enclaves to be able to transport drugs more quickly to the main consumer market, which is northern Europe. It must be taken into account that in Spain the price of a kilo of marijuana already prepared for consumption ranges around 1,800 euros, while in Europe you can pay up to 4,000 euros.
According to the head of investigation, the criminal organizations responsible for the plantations increasingly function like large multinational companies with a "commercial department" that sells the marijuana, another that deals with manufacturing and manufacturing with gardeners and people who locate the sites for plantar, and another section that is dedicated to transporting drugs throughout Europe.
One of the risks posed by this "professionalization" of organizations is that they can arm themselves to protect the plantations or even set traps to scare away other drug traffickers who want to steal their production.
In 2021, an agent was injured during the dismantling of a plantation in Alcoletge that was full of traps.
The police officer was shot by a shotgun that was placed as a trap in one of the entrances. This year Fadurdo says that they have not found any plantations with this type of traps but emphasizes that this risk forces them to carry out investigations with "much more care" since those responsible for the plantations can also be armed.
Jordi Fadurdo has positively valued that those responsible for the police force have started a pilot program to transfer the management of the plantations they locate to specialized gardening companies.
In this sense, he emphasizes that marijuana is still plant matter and to be destroyed a "specific infrastructure" is necessary that the Mossos d'Esquadra as a police force does not have or only has a "minimum". Fadurdo adds that they ensure security, surveillance and investigation and that is why he believes that it will be a "great contribution" to have these specialized companies available.
When a marijuana plantation is dismantled, there are several judicial factors that determine whether the drug can be destroyed on site or needs to be transported. It is in the second case when serious problems occur in storing it, since in the police stations there is no space to store so much drug, which in the end ends up rotting and generating a health problem.
Finally, Fadurdo sees it as difficult to make a prediction about how this illegal market will evolve, but he is convinced that next year they will once again find large marijuana plantations in difficult-to-access areas of the district since "it is the reality we have now." Likewise, he considers that indoor cultivation, which can be done throughout the year, will continue to be practiced, "it is a daily reality and I do not see this being solved in the short term," he lamented.
In any case, he considers that the police adapt to the needs of society and now they have to fight against this problem, just as they also do against other realities such as crimes against sexual freedom or robberies.