Police officers during the arrest of one of the suspects in the shooting at La Sala. SUR
Marbella gun crime: investigation, arrests and a plan
Fighting crime

Marbella gun crime: investigation, arrests and a plan

As specialist officers work on the recent spate of shooting incidents, the majority in Nueva Andalucía, police have announced a crackdown, reinforcements and greater controls

Alba Martín Campos / Chus Heredia

Friday, 19 April 2024, 12:50


Marbella has been the scene of six shooting incidents since February, leaving four people injured and a bullet-ridden restaurant. The most recent was on Saturday evening when a 34-year-old Albanian national was seriously injured, when he was shot several times in the Guadalmina shopping area.

However the event that caused most alarm was on 2 April, when residents in Los Naranjos, Nueva Andalucía, heard gunfire in the early hours of the morning. Moments before the shooting, there was apparently a struggle in which two individuals snatched a sports bag from the victim.

According to sources the investigation has revealed that both assailants and victim - a 21-year-old British national - were apparently known to each other and that the bag, which has not appeared, would have contained either cash or drugs. The pair escaped the scene by car and officers found the victim next to another vehicle with its doors open. He had been shot in the knee and the pelvis and was being assisted by a man and a woman, who was in tears.

The struggle prior to the incident on 2 April in Nueva Andalucía, recorded by witnesses.
The struggle prior to the incident on 2 April in Nueva Andalucía, recorded by witnesses. SUR

Police are still investigating to identify the gunmen. With the incident apparently related to organised crime and drug dealing, the case is in the hands of the specialist police unit for these crimes, the Udyco.

As is typical in shooting incidents, the victim exercised his right to remain silent. However, despite this common lack of cooperation, police have already solved two other shooting incidents since February in Nueva Andalucía. Two arrests were made last month - both British nationals - in connection with the shots fired on 11 March at La Sala restaurant. The investigation remains open, however.

Restaurant shooting

This newspaper learned that the night before this incident, there was apparently an argument on the premises between one of the managers and one of the arrested suspects in which threats were apparently made. Detectives are convinced that they have still not uncovered the whole story behind this quarrel and that the shots were fired as a warning. The security cameras were key in the identification of the suspects.

The restaurant was fired at 15 times at around 12 midday. CCTV footage revealed how earlier an individual left a property in Nueva Andalucía on a Honda 750 bike with British plates, wearing a full face helmet. He went into the garage of another house nearby and later cameras showed two men leave the property.

The windows of the restaurant after being hit by 15 bullets in March.
The windows of the restaurant after being hit by 15 bullets in March. SUR

The pair left on the bike, the first individual as the passenger, although the registration plate had been changed to a Spanish one.

The restaurant was about to open. The second man waited on the bike while the first fired 15 shots at the windows; some bullets were lodged in seating. They then fled the scene.

Both suspects, aged around 30, were remanded in custody, accused of attempted homicide, violent threats, possession of firearms - a gun was found in the home of one of them, although ballistics were yet to confirm whether it was the one used in the shooting -, document forgery and violating immigration laws.

National Police have also cleared up the first of this spate of shootings in Marbella, also in Nueva Andalucía, on 10 February, in which a young Swedish man was shot in a leg and an arm. According to police sources, this was related to a conflict between rival gangs from Sweden. It was apparently a double attempted homicide, as the victim was with another man, who fled the scene when the shots were fired. Police believe that this could have been a territorial dispute and related to drug trafficking. Three suspects were arrested, aged between 24 and 31, and two were remanded in custody.

Experts have been saying for some time that the Costa del Sol has become a magnet for drug trafficking gangs, whose violence knows no limits when it comes to gaining territory. SUR contacted specialist drug crime prosecutor in Marbella, Carlos Tejada, who, without revealing details of the investigations still open, said that they were dealing with "real professionals".

Professional methods

Proof of this are the precautions taken - false registration plates, full face helmets - to avoid arrest. "We're not talking about people who act spontaneously; when they are going to commit a crime, they have it all planned out in their heads," he said.

"Drug dealing moves so much money that those involved want to have their territory and if they have to shoot others to get them out or because something has gone wrong, they won't hesitate," said Tejada.

The public prosecutor is not surprised that several of these shootings have taken place in Nueva Andalucía. "It's a place with infinite residential developments, many of them luxury, with many bars and restaurants and golf courses; it's very easy to go unnoticed among the large foreign community there," said Tejada.

This is where the specialist police units Udyco and Greco come in: "We have specialised officers and authorised technological measures that are a great help in solving these cases."

One of the three suspects arrested in the shooting case 10 February.
One of the three suspects arrested in the shooting case 10 February. SUR

Plan Marbella

The National Police announced a special operation, named Plan Marbella, focusing on cracking down on both organised and petty crime in the area, last week. Officers from various stations throughout eastern Andalucía, as well as police dog units and aerial resources, will be assigned to Marbella to carry out extra patrols and reinforcement. The plan, which will involve a greater uniformed police presence on the town's streets, will run until October. "There will be increased controls on vehicles and people, with random checks at alternative times and locations to increase the surprise factor," the provincial police station said last week.

Meanwhile Marbella mayor Ángeles Muñoz has called for National Police to prioritise security in the light of the recent spate of shootings. She called for a meeting with government officials and for more information to be shared with the Local Police force.

Muñoz said that, despite the six shootings in the past two months, crime in Marbella has decreased by 7.4 per cent, according to latest figures for the third quarter of 2023.

The government responded to the mayor's words by calling for "respect" for the work of the National Police and pointing out that the content of their investigations is secret.

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