A 14-meter, 5,000-kilogram boat with three engines against a five-meter, 500-kilogram Zodiac. This is how they faced each other drug traffickers and civil guards on Friday in Barbate. These vehicles, banned since 2018, are the main threat suffered by the State security forces in the area. In six years, this regulation has not prevented boats from continuing to roam freely in the Bay of Algeciras.
From the Unified Association of Civil Guards (AUGC), its national spokesperson, Pedro Carmona, denounces that the body does not have “neither the means nor the agents” necessary to confront drug traffickers. As this newspaper already reported, the resources of the Civil Guard are at a minimum and agents have to confront traffickers with resources that are not designed for it.
In October 2018, the Council of Ministers approved a decree law adopting “measures to combat the illicit trafficking of people and goods in relation to the vessels used.” With this rule, the Government of Pedro Sánchez sought six years ago to respond to the demands of the agents, but time has passed and nothing has changed in the Bay of Algeciras.
Already in the drafting of the decree law it was indicated that these vessels pose a constant “risk” to maritime security, something that has been demonstrated once again in Barbate. “The very action of the forces in charge of repressing these crimes in the pursuit of these vessels often requires the assumption of significant risks for the safety of the crew members and the vessels, in the face of the risky evasive maneuvers usually carried out by the pilots of the semi-rigid boats that have caused accidents with loss of life”, he highlighted.
The “urgent need” to regulate these gliders, which the decree already spoke of, is still in force today and, despite the ban, their use continues daily by drug traffickers. Not only this, Carmona denounces that those who use these vehicles “They are arrested, they leave through the back door” and they continue “walking freely” without problems.
In fact, Carmona remembers that, in addition to Miguel Ángel Gómez and David Pérez, died this weekend, since 2019 two other colleagues have been “murdered” when they were fighting against drug trafficking. In May 2021, Agustín Cárdenas was hit by a car driven by drug traffickers on the AP-4 near Jerez while they were fleeing from the Civil Guard at 180 kilometers per hour. For his part. Fermín Cabezas was run over on the A-7, in Los Barrios, while he was chasing a vehicle suspected of transporting drugs with his motorcycle.
Luis Bueno, from AUGC Cádiz, criticizes that means are only put in place when a colleague is murdered and asks that they always be present in the province. “Since the incident was so serious, more resources were put in place, but any cache, without the need for there to be deaths, is serious,” he emphasizes. Furthermore, he remembers that they have been warning for months that a misfortune was going to happen and time has proven them right.
The debate also focuses on the role of the Tax Agency. It is this organization that must follow the trail of the money with which the boats and the rest of the vehicles with which they traffic drugs are purchased. And, as the AUGC spokesperson recalls, the purchase of these vehicles is made with black money.
Control of these illegal vessels is complex. Although the law allows “seizing them even on land and without illicit cargo and initiate the corresponding sanctioning proceedings or make the complaints that are pertinent”, at no time does it specify who this responsibility corresponds to. Added to this is that many are built in dry portsthat is, in the interior of the country, and transported in trucks directly to the sea for trafficking, something that makes it extremely difficult for the authorities to track them.
However, the AUGC once again asks the Ministry of the Interior that Cádiz be designated as an area of special singularity, so that it can have more resources, more personnel and so that workers have incentives to want to be there. The association points out that the difficult situation of the civil guards in the area means that the majority do not want to be posted there.