Tension rises after boy is killed in Algeciras by powerboat used in drug smuggling

The high-powered boat at the quayside after being seized.
The high-powered boat at the quayside after being seized. / EFE
  • The sense of insecurity in the Campo de Gibraltar area was heightened after nine Guardia Civil officers were attacked in a separate incident

The feeling of insecurity felt by locals in the Campo de Gibraltar area because of the activities of gangs bringing smuggled drugs from north Africa increased this week after two separate incidents around Algeciras town.

On Monday a six-year-old boy who was out at sea fishing with his father near Getares beach died after the boat they were in was hit by a semi-rigid inflatable speedboat.

The two occupants of the faster boat were arrested and are reported to have a criminal record for drug-trafficking. Although the government stressed that there was no evidence that the speedboat was being used for that purpose on the day of the collision, it had been stopped by antidrug patrols in April when it was found laden with fuel containers and officers believe it was supporting other smuggling boats.

On that occasion officers had impounded it as the pilot wasn't carrying the correct paperwork and the owner had only recovered possession from police an hour before it was involved in this week's fatal incident. The government is currently trying to ban this type of fast boat from the area due to its use by drugs gangs.

Witnesses to the incident say the boats' occupants had got into an argument and the faster one had driven into the smaller one. While investigators said they were unclear exactly what had happened, they indicated that those in both boats had significant links to the area's illegal drugs trade and that there had been “previous arguments and scores to be settled”.

Attack on off-duty police

The death of the boy came just days after nine Guardia Civil officers were attacked with broken bottles and baseball bats, also in Algeciras. The officers were all off duty at the time and had gone out to eat in a restaurant last Saturday evening when “they came across around 40 people outside in the street waiting for them”.

One of the officers shot three times into the air to break up the group and they made their way to the nearest medical centre to receive treatment for minor injuries.

By Wednesday, seven of the attackers had been detained; four of them have a police record for drug trafficking, sources said. The families of those arrested have claimed it was the officers' fault for starting the fight as they “had left the restaurant drunk”.

In reaction to these latest incidents, the Interior minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido has said there will be no let up in the fight against drug trafficking in the Campo de Gibraltar area, where the self-confidence of the gangs has increased recently. On Tuesday 400 kilos of cocaine was seized inside a single shipment at Algeciras port.