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Guardia Civil arrests 65 in Campo on suspicion of drug and tobacco smuggling

Spain’s Guardia Civil arrested 65 people and seized 20 fast boats in a major crackdown on gangs involved in drug and tobacco smuggling in the Campo de Gibraltar.

Officers seized 20 small rigid-hulled inflatable boats that were being used to supply fuel to larger vessels used to run drugs from Morocco to Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar.

The same small boats were allegedly being used to smuggle tobacco from Gibraltar to Spain, the Guardia Civil said.

Officers also seized 42,074 packets of cigarettes worth 168,000 euros and over 5,500 litres of fuel as part of the operation.

Some of the arrests generated widespread social alarm earlier this month after beachgoers filmed members of the gang trying to flee on foot after running one of their vessels at high speed onto a crowded beach, with no regard for the safety of beachgoers.

Dramatic footage released by the Guardia Civil includes images showing an officer pointing a handgun at one of the suspects as he arrests him on the beachside walkway in La Atunara in La Linea.

To add to the list of offences, the gang is accused of smuggling during the lockdown period and ignoring public health rules aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19, the Guardia Civil said in a statement.

In a separate operation, three people including a husband and wife were arrested on suspicion of laundering the proceeds of drug smuggling.

Officers also seized a firearm and uncovered a clandestine farm used to breed cockerels for illegal fights.