It was broad daylight and they made no attempt to hide what they were doing from people in the street in La Cala de Mijas. On 12 January this year, three people rushed out of a car and beat a man up before forcing him into the vehicle and driving off at top speed.
Witnesses called the Guardia Civil to report the incident, and that was the start of an investigation called Operation Costala which has now come to a conclusion.
The officers alerted all patrols in Malaga province to look out for the car and the individual who had been kidnapped. A few hours later, a man answering his description appeared 77 kilometres away in Manilva. He had suffered serious injuries and multiple bruises on his body from the beating and had a bullet wound in one arm. He said his captors had shot at him as he escaped from the house in which he was being held. He was admitted to hospital for surgery.
The victim is said to have told the police that his kidnappers had demanded 100,000 euros for his release. The clues he was able to give the police enabled them to find the property in Manilva where he had been held.
Once inside the house, officers saw evidence of the crimes that had been committed, including the bullet which had been fired at the kidnap victim.
After this initial search, the police began to identify the people involved. Eight were arrested (two women and six men) in Mijas, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Algeciras and Madrid. All are believed to be part of a drug trafficking gang.
In subsequent searches, the Guardia Civil also found a firearm and the calibre coincided with that of the bullet found in the house, some 100,000 euros in fake banknotes and a scanner used to detect electronic devices.
The police believe the counterfeit money could have been used in a failed drug transaction between the kidnap victim and those who had seized him, and that is why they had demanded 100,000 euros as a condition of his release.
Those arrested are charged with membership of a criminal organisation, illegal detention, causing injuries and illegal possession of weapons.