Increase in killings on the Costa del Sol leaves authorities "seriously concerned"

Police officers on the scene after a man was killed on the day his son took his first communion.
Police officers on the scene after a man was killed on the day his son took his first communion. / Josele-Lanza
  • The Public Prosecution Department is also worried about the fact that cases of what is known as 'narcoterrorism' have now also occurred in Malaga province

In 2018, organised crime left an unprecedented trail of bloody incidents on the Costa del Sol. Nobody can fail to be worried by this. Certainly not local residents, or institutions such as the Prosecution Service in Malaga, which has expressed "serious concern" at the increase in violent crimes related to revenge attacks between gangs, such as commissioned killings.

The figures speak for themselves. Last year the authorities in Malaga opened 95 cases of homicide (premeditated and manslaughter), and that was 44 per cent more than the previous year. Figures show that violent crime has increased by 61 per cent when compared with four years ago.

Premeditated murders, in other words those in which the criminal plans the victim's death, increased from 52 cases in 2017 to 65 last year. Assassinations rose by 40 per cent, from five to seven.

The prosecution service in Malaga is worried by the rise in this type of crime on the Costa del Sol, most of which is associated with criminal organisations. Sources there say the Malaga coast is an ideal place for members of these gangs to live and hide, because of the good communications and the proximity to Morocco, where the main hashish producers are based.

They say that different types of organised crime exist in Malaga, including transnational. These people specialise in numerous types of crime, such as drug trafficking, robberies and burglaries, but always with the same benefit in mind: money.

That is the Gordian Knot of the problem. The prosecution service says these types of criminal organisations spare no efforts, firstly in avoiding being caught by the authorities and secondly to be able to enjoy freely the financial benefits of their crimes.

That is when the revenge attacks between the different organisations tend to occur. The Public Prosecution Department has expressed its concern, not only at the rise in violent crime, such as revenge attacks and premeditated murders, but also by the qualitative leap in the figures in the past year.

One area of special concern is the use of explosives against members of rival organisations and their properties. The prosecution service stresses the "potential harm" these methods can cause and the danger involved in the fact that these materials have already been used in revenge attacks between gangs.

They are talking about what has become known as 'narcoterrorism'. There was an unprecedented attack on the Costa del Sol in September, when explosives experts from the National Police's TEDAX squad had to detonate a device found in the Alto de los Monteros residential development in Marbella, an area of luxury houses. The investigation soon pointed to the fact that the bomb was intended to have been used in a revenge attack related to organised crime.

This was one of the most worrying incidents in the spiralling violence on the Costa del Sol until, a month later, Malaga experienced its first successful case of narcoterrorism.

This was on 10 October, when two devices exploded. The first was in the Mirador de la Alquería urbanisation in Benahavís, when a car caught fire and the front of a house was damaged by the explosion. A few minutes later there was a huge fire after another bomb went off on the industrial estate in San Pedro Alcántara, damaging five warehouses and several cars.

It turned out that the car wash business which was attacked also belonged to the owner of the house which was bombed in Benahavís. Again, this case was deemed to have been associated with organised crime. It was another revenge attack on the Costa del Sol. On that occasion they used bombs, but gunmen have also left a long and bloody trail behind them in the past year.

One of the crimes which caused the most alarm was a year ago when a man was shot dead at the entrance to the church in San Pedro Alcántara, where his son had just taken his first holy communion.

The revenge attacks reported here all occurred in 2018, but the disputes between rival gangs are by no means over, and so far this year there have already been other violent incidents and revenge attacks on the Costa del Sol.

cases of murder or manslaughter were investigated by the Prosecution Service in Malaga in 2018. This was an increase of 44 per cent compared with the previous year and 61 per cent more than four years previously.