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La Linea incident puts spotlight on drug smuggling violence

Spanish police and Guardia Civil officers were pelted with rocks on Sunday after they tried to stop a drug smuggling operation, in an incident that highlights the dangers faced by law enforcement officers tackling organised crime.
The officers were attacked by scores of people as they attempted to intercept smugglers preparing to unload bales on the Tonelero beach on La Linea’s eastern seaboard.
The police presence prevented the speedboat from discharging its cargo but the officers were bombarded with rocks by those waiting on the shoreline.
Over 100 people were involved in the incident, according to the Asociación Unificada de la Guardia Civil, which represents Guardia Civil officers.
Some of the officers sustained minor injuries and the vehicles were damaged during the incident, the AUGC said in a statement.
The association called for “immediate measures” to tackle what it described as “the increase in drug smuggling-related crime” which had led to officers feeling “discouraged and uneasy”.
“The authorities describes these as ‘isolated incidents’ but must now stop minimising this serious problem,” the AUGC said.
“These repeated incidents are generating a sense of insecurity in the face of criminal organisations capable of mobilising hundreds of people to confront law enforcement agencies in daylight and with apparent impunity.”
According to the AUGC, on Sunday alone there were four separate incidents in which three Guardia Civil officers and four police officers were injured.
In one incident, a Guardia Civil patrol boat was harassed by four rigid-hulled inflatable boats carrying 12 smugglers.
Two municipal police officers in San Roque also sustained injuries in a drugs-related incident.
“This is daily life in the Cádiz region,” the AUGC said, repeating its longstanding call for additional resources.
The AUGC said it planned to intensify its media and lobbying activities to raise the problem of drug smuggling and related crime in southern Spain.
It wants authorities to conduct a detailed assessment and increase resources and personnel accordingly.

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