In the Strait of Gibraltar, the tracking speed of the “Narcos”

The strait is a hunting ground. In the role of the cat, patrol boats, supported by helicopters of the Guardia Civil ; in the mouse, the “lanchas” pneumatic traffickers. In this game, each camp takes its hero. Side mafia, Abdellah El-Haj, alias ” the Messi of hashish “, the head of the largest network of Gibraltar, is a model. Stopped at Algeciras in November 2017, he managed to escape and join the Morocco. The man is so powerful in the region that he was asked by the Spanish authorities in 2015, while he was in prison, to monitor the jihadists in the south of the peninsula. Next to the police also, a star is born. In thirty years of service, the helicopter pilot, and chief inspector Pedro Luis Bardon has forged his legend. Its output of high-flying have even earned a consecration on the big screen : in 2014, Bardon has inspired sequences epic blockbuster, ” El Niño “, which traces the hunt for the biggest suspect drug-dealer Spanish. And he has even performed stunts in the film.

The former lawyer passionate about aeronautics, was soon chosen its own way of enforcing the law : the right hand on the throttle of a chopper. It conducts surveillance flights, using the boats of the Guardia Civil, less fast, to locate and intercept go-fast. Bardon knows by heart the profile of the narcos. He has a point of view unparalleled to describe their equipment and their cargoes : “They are armed but do not use their weapons to defend themselves against rival gangs, not against the police. Their boats are equipped with three or four engines that allow them to navigate more than 100 km/h. They have helmets, harnesses, tapes to fix their feet… Each boat, 12 to 14 meters long, can carry up to 3 tons of drugs – of the dozens of bundles of 30 kilos. The equivalent of several million euros. The crossing of a canoe can last from thirty minutes to a few days, if we are his kits. “The pilot saw the means to develop, the techniques improve. To escape the police, the organization of the drug traffickers is becoming more and more sophisticated. Armed with powerful technological tools and an imagination without limits, they are worthy of the largest transport companies.

Passage between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, between Africa and Europe, the strait is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world : 300 ships used day-to-day, in international waters. And all realities stand side by side on this arm of the sea large of 14 km. Cruises to Croatia, sailing near the steamers from Latin America, the rafiots overloaded with migrants or cars to drivers in balaclavas. The starting Point of the holiday for some, a ditch of horror or doors of hope for others, Gibraltar is also a huge hub for the drug. The “chocolate” one of the most popular in the world. The traffic streams of the Rif mountains and flows into the streets of France before flooding Europe. Its strong point : go fast from coast to coast. These crossings clandestine boat, semi-rigid carry every day tons of cam from Morocco to Spain.

It is 16 hours on Monday 9 July, Sabinillas, near Malaga. Suddenly, a rumor covers the melody of the waves and amplifies it. Engine roars and gusts of blades and spread by the wind. The busts are recovering on the sun beds. An off-the-board narcotics rushes on the beach, hooked up to its train by a police helicopter. The boat fails abruptly, its driver scoot. The tourists are filming. On the andalusian coast, the scene is part of the folklore. The one who, every day, darkens a little further Gibraltar.

Finished, the time when the ” gomas “, “rubbers” as it is known the drug traffickers, conducting back-and-forth night between Spain and Morocco. Now, the boats form in the middle of the sea of true base camps self-sustaining. These intermediaries, or ” runners of the night “, are equipped with tents, supplied with food and fuel by boats full of containers that are office of gas pumps mobile. They may wait days of their instruction in international waters. When the operation is started, the canoes came from the coves of the moroccan Tangier, Ceuta, Tetouan, Melilla or Al Hoceïma join them and proceed to the ” vuelco “), the transfer of drugs from one boat to another. Then, it is their turn to take action. To achieve without pitfalls shore Spanish “lanchas” are equipped with radar and thermal sensors. At the slightest alarm, the bundles are thrown into the water, connected by a rope with a GPS that allows you to recover them. The ranges of delivery are chosen according to strict criteria : they must have multiple outputs and be connected to the highways, to allow of escape in case of a lawsuit. This is when the canoes came to a good port that begins the most perilous. Under penalty of seeing the coast guard to disembark or, worse, rivals dressed as police officers come to steer the drug, the crew must unload in about five minutes. But, first, there are… On the outboard, there are always four people : a driver, two men for the labor and… a ” notary public “, the man of confidence of the suspect drug-dealer. It checks that the number of balls of drug delivered on the deserted beaches of Cadiz, Tarifa, Barbate or of Málaga corresponds to the embedded… And the cars appear, and their occupants take care of the transfer to the “child care” homes, where residents without a history are paid to monitor the goods during two days.

This involvement of the civilian population is a bane to the forces of law and order. Despite its share of tragedies, the traffic continues to dream. For a young party man with Jet-Ski make a “small deal” in Morocco and never returned, one other to send to friends a selfie, between champagne and blonde with naked breasts, to celebrate its million earned in one night. In a region which is suffering from 35 percent unemployment, the narcos have become the main employers and the rush for the” brown gold ” always attracts more applicants. A teen may affect up to 1 500 euros for pretending to fish on the dam and give the warning when “the bird” (nickname of the helicopter Bardon) appears in the sky. The unloading of the drug is paid double. At each crossing, up to 20 000 euros for the workforce of 30 000 to 60 000 for the driver. No wonder that, last summer, a hundred inhabitants of La Linea de la Concepcion are out in the street for caillasser the police who tried to prevent a landing. The drug trade fuels a parallel economy, hierarchical and branched. Some specialize in the theft of 4 x 4 for the reception of the parcels, others in their caretaking. There is also the rental of the ” lanchas “, the fuel delivery… In total, thirty of the gang would employ directly more than 3,000 people and would begin to operate hand in hand to develop their business. The spokesperson of the union of civil guards of Cadiz observes : “It is not absurd to think that an authentic drug cartel could emerge. “The explosion of the traffic is feared the formation of a Medellin at the gates of Europe.

Seven or eight crossings would take place each night, according to Juan Cabas Lopez, chief inspector at the office of Algeciras. They would route every day nearly 10 tonnes of cannabis on our continent. Between January and April, 145 tonnes have already been entered, or more than half of the balance sheet as of 2017. On the thousands of tons of resin produced annually by Morocco, only 20 % would be intercepted. The Spanish minister of the Interior, Juan Ignacio Zoido, has announced the release of “reinforcements permanent” to the border of Gibraltar. A royal decree, forbidding the “lanchas” in the strait, regardless of their cargo or their owner, had been adopted on 13 July. In old veteran, the driver Pedro Luis Bardon tempers the alarmist talk : “This is the third generation of traffickers. They are very young. They roll in a BMW, earn a lot of money… They calmeront when they have been the subject of an initial detention. They will fall, that’s for sure. “Six thousand hours of flight time have not altered their optimism. His motto is inscribed on the helicopter : “Venor Noctu” (” I hunt the night “). It recognizes, however, that things have changed. “In the 1990s, I fell on a boat, which was travelling to Spain. I shouted to my assistant : “Open the door, and aims your weapon !” The driver of the boat has been in his pants, threw the goods overboard and fled… This time is past. “

Now, the narcos will stop at nothing to protect their business. Even if it means sacrificing one of their own, or to turn up the violence a notch. Their new strategy to escape the police : the boat ram. One of them came to be built voluntarily in the vessel of the Guardia Civil, the 18th of July, during the pursuit of a “lancha” loaded cannabis. He smashed his bow and fled. Spectacular, the scene is reminiscent of the cascades of the surreal” El Niño “. But, since the sky of Gibraltar, in his “bird” of prey, Bardon understood. It is past the time of the film. Survey Nathalie Hadj

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