TWO MAJOR CRIME NETWORKS SMASHED

Malaga’s Organised Crime Brigade (ECO) in collaboration with the Central Operative Unit (UCO) smashed what a Guardia Civil spokesman called “one of the most important crime networks in Spain” last week. In an operation dubbed Centry-Paris, 44 people were arrested in Malaga, Algeciras, Melilla, Granada, Jaen and Alicante. Fourteen were arrested in Malaga city, five in Marbella, two in Benalmadena, one in Torremolinos, one in Cartama and one in Estepona. However, it was the vast amounts of money they spent on clothes and jewellery in Avenue Montaigne in Paris and on luxury cars in Germany that gave them away, the Guardia spokesman said. Another 11 accomplices were arrested and more than three tons of hashish were seized. The Guardia spokesman said the network had been completely dismantled, from the people who bought the drug in Morocco to those who distributed it to several European countries. Those arrested included 34 Spaniards, 13 Moroccans, four Frenchmen, two Dutchmen, one Palestinian and one Gibraltarian. The investigation began in October last year when ECO-Malaga were tipped off that a Moroccan with a long police record had moved from Torrevieja in Alicante – where police pressure was too hot for him – to the Costa del Sol. In addition to the drug trafficking charges, the men also face charges of illegal possession of arms, falsifying documents, money laundering and illicit association against the public health, among other things. Earlier in the week, the police arrested 121 people in what has been described as the country’s “biggest-ever operation against child pornography on the internet”. Millions of images that show child sex abuse were seized in a series of nationwide raids, which uncovered a network spanning 75 countries. Police said two of those held were using their own children to make pornography. A further 96 people have been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography. The arrests, made over a period of seven days, were part of a long-term operation which began in July last year with the help of Brazilian police. Those detained include bank clerks, porters and airline pilots, and some are foreigners resident in Spain. Enrique Rodriguez, from the police’s Technological Investigation Brigade, told reporters that the network was enormous, involving 18,000 IP addresses across the world, including 1,600 in Spain. IP addresses are unique numbers that identify each computer connected to the internet. He said the foreign leads will now be followed up through Interpol. The raids bring to 1,200 the number of people arrested for child pornography in Spain over the past five years.

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