Inquiry reveals underworld links.
What has been described as the biggest case of police corruption in Spain’s history began to unravel in Coslada on the outskirts of Madrid last week, with the arrest of the chief of the Local Police and 25 agents on charges of blackmail, threatening behaviour, complicity with the Rumanian mafia and physical attacks on citizens. The arrests followed a three-month investigation of a prostitution network run from Rumania. When Madrid’s Judicial Police started questioning the Rumanian prostitutes they began to talk about the police in Coslada who, the women said, forced them to give free sex and also threatened to deport them if they did not give them a cut of their takings. The investigating police began to tap telephones and discovered that the Local Police were also visiting bars and restaurants in the area to demand money “if they wanted to stay open” or to put tables and chairs out on the pavement in the summer. The man behind it all is alleged to be police chief Gines Jimenez Buendia, who joined the Coslada police force in 1986, after leaving his native Murcia. Having studied journalism, Gines maintained excellent relations with the Madrid press, which failed to dig deeper behind his “hail fellow well met” façade. However, he didn’t fool the local people, who said last week that his corrupt practices had been an open secret for years. Several had tried to report him to the authorities, at the risk of serious injury. Now referred to in the press as the “sheriff”, the local people told reporters last week that his men patrolled the streets as if they owned them which, in effect, they did. They ate and drank for free, and availed themselves of the prostitutes’ services whenever they pleased, often organising orgies. They even used their mobiles to film the beatings they inflicted on anyone they deemed as deserving them. Although Genes is being held in jail, several of his men have been released on charges, including some of those featuring in the filmed beatings. The police said many bar and restaurant owners were not coming forward with their side of the story for fear of reprisals but the presence of the national media in Coslada has emboldened many of the locals, who are enjoying being in the limelight as they gradually reveal all the sordid details of the sheriff’s dirty dealings.