One of the suspects arrives at court in Barbate on Monday. SUR
Spanish minister under fire over Guardia Civil drug boat deaths

Spanish minister under fire over Guardia Civil drug boat deaths

Two police officers were killed off Barbate in Cadiz province in an attack by smugglers when their smaller boat was hit by the powerful, banned narco vessel



Friday, 16 February 2024, 13:32

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The minister of the Interior has said he has not considered resigning after the death last Friday of two Guardia Civil officers when the boat they were in was rammed by a bigger drug-trafficking vessel off Barbate in Cadiz province. Eight people were subsequently arrested including the six people that were on the powerboat.

The minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, has been under fire all week from opposition parties PP and Vox over, what they claim, is underspending on protection for Guardia Civil fighting against increasingly sophisticated drug smuggling operations off the Andalusian coast.

In videos shared on social media, the police issued several warnings to the traffickers who had anchored at Barbate to take shelter from a storm, even firing into the air. The officers placed their much smaller inflatable boat in their path but the smugglers rammed into the patrol vessel deliberately. Miguel Ángel González, 39, and David Pérez, 43, died as a result of the impact. Two colleagues were seriously injured.

Tracked towards Sotogrande

Following the attack, the powerful rigid inflatable vessel, a type which is banned in Spain, was located on radar heading eastwards along the coast. The gang landed by Sotogrande where some got off but police were waiting for them. They arrested three of the boat's crew and two other men who were waiting in a vehicle at the scene to pick them up.

The narco-boat then sailed on along the coast, with three people still onboard. The drug-running gang took a gamble near La Alcaidesa in La Línea, where they ran the boat aground to try to flee on foot. But the three were arrested by Guardia Civil officers who were waiting for them.

A minute's silence was widely held at town halls and other public buildings across Spain in memory of the two dead officers.

The government has backed the minister, saying that faced with the drug-trafficking challenge, Fernando Grande-Marlaska is the best person for the job.

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