Gang violence erupts as rave craze returns

By Lunar Loops · Aug 21, 2006 ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    Talk about sensationalist reporting. This from The Observer (UK) :

    Gang violence erupts as rave craze returns

    [FONT=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]With the rebirth of dance culture, hard drugs are openly for sale on the streets of Ibiza. Tonight, 40,000 ecstasy tablets will be bought on the island. Now the brutality that underpins the trade is boiling over, and the party paradise is turning into a nightmare world of contract killings[/FONT]

    [FONT=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif]Mark Townsend in San Antonio
    Sunday August 20, 2006
    The Observer

    She was gone for five minutes. Scoring drugs on the waterfront of San Antonio rarely takes long. Rachel, 23, from Leeds, returned clutching three film-wrapped balls of cocaine and half-a-dozen ecstasy tablets. Her group sidled off to the lavatories of a beach bar in pairs. Like thousands of others, they had come to Ibiza to take drugs and dance all night in one of the many superclubs, then sleep off their hangovers on the beach during the day. And they were not disappointed: their holiday destination is the epicentre of the biggest captive market for cocaine and ecstasy dealers in the world.
    Away from the laughter of the women from West Yorkshire, a darker story emerges. It involves a spate of contract killings, some of Britain's most wanted criminals and an illegal trade that links San Antonio to drug syndicates in most major UK cities.
    More murders are expected to follow as drugs barons battle for supremacy. The recent shooting of two innocent holidaymakers caught in the crossfire of a gunfight among British gangs just yards from where Rachel bought her night's stash is evidence of escalating tension among the British criminals.
    First reports that Ibiza's club scene was experiencing its busiest season of the last few years reached suppliers acting for the leading drug syndicates last month. The response was immediate. Scores of dealers are thought to have been sent from the Costa del Sol and Britain to Ibiza. Gangs from Liverpool, Manchester, London and Birmingham are all thought to be operating in the port town, according to the latest intelligence from Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and Interpol.
    A resurgence in the popularity of dance music and the rave culture that has seen nearly all of Ibiza's superclubs, such as Space and Pacha, break records for visitor numbers seems certain to continue for the rest of the summer. The music magazine Mixmag claims that, after years in the shadows, dance music is back to its high popularity level of the mid-Nineties. Celebrities have been keen to join the party. Budding DJ Peaches Geldof, 17, performed in Ibiza last week alongside Pete Doherty and Noel Gallagher. Mick Jagger's daughter Jade recently held a spectacular party there.
    At a time when the number of holidaymakers visiting rivals such as Ayia Napa in Cyprus is down, British travel firms sent 427,000 Britons to Ibiza last month; early indications suggest the single biggest increase is among groups of young women such as Rachel and friends.
    Police believe hundreds of kilos of cocaine and hundreds of thousands of ecstasy tablets have been successfully dispatched to the 12-mile strip of sand and rock in the Mediterranean.
    More British undercover officers will be deployed to the island this week. A cache of weapons belonging to a UK gang was uncovered last week in a villa above San Antonio, but intelligence suggests that other guns have already taken their place. Tomorrow an estimated 40,000 ecstasy pills will be sold in Ibiza, the same as last night and the night before.
    Juan Pantalioni sighed deeply and conceded that drugs were destroying his town. From his office window, the head of San Antonio police nodded at the rows of luxury yachts bobbing in the marina below and the empty berth where the Joe Ann Moore arrived last month.
    Ostensibly, the British-registered vessel had been hired to ferry champagne-quaffing VIPs around the Mediterranean. Pantalioni's men would, however, find an altogether different cargo below its decks. Wedged inside two secret compartments was 717 kilos (1,581lb) of cocaine. A British gang had attempted to bring the drug to the heart of San Antonio's rave scene.
    The contents of the Joe Ann Moore were found barely 100 metres from San Antonio's largest clubs. Days later, a series of homes in Liverpool were raided in connection with the discovery.
    A week before the San Antonio shootings, intelligence confirmed that British-based drugs gangs were gearing up to cash in on Ibiza's record season: August would be massive. Elsewhere, however, police had also deduced that this summer might be the one when gangland violence finally erupted in the centre of Europe's summer clubbing capital.
    Little more than 220 miles across the Mediterranean, Spanish police had noted a bloody month among the competing British drug barons who had settled on the Costa del Sol. At least four British and Irish drug dealers were murdered during July. The corpses of Shane Coates, 31, and Stephen Sugg, 26, both from Dublin, were hauled from a concrete grave near Malaga. Each had been shot twice in the mouth from point-blank range. Within days the body of the eccentric British playboy and drug runner Colin Nobes, 47, was discovered under a motorway bridge near Denia.
    The killing continued. Londoner William Moy, 43, was shot five times as he sat in a busy cafe with his family. Other men just disappeared on the dusty roads that wind through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The body of at least one other drug dealer is believed to have been buried under cement in a Spanish villa's foundations.
    Moy's death, which characterises the so-called settling of accounts or grudges between gangs, proved the final straw for the Spanish authorities. Extra British officers were drafted to what the locals call the Costa Nostra as the foreign drug syndicates began increasing orders to satisfy the huge market in the Balearics.
    Finding those responsible for disseminating drugs in San Antonio is simple. The dealers surface at dusk, lining up along the palm-lined Passeig Maritim close to the world-famous clubs such as Manumission and Eden. At least a dozen work the crowded promenade; spotters at either end watch for police.
    The deals are far from surreptitious, with the pastilleros - pill pushers - admitting they operate with a degree of impunity. One Senegalese dealer, who said he worked 'to supply the British', claimed the risk of getting caught was negligible. 'There are no police here, it is safe.' Similarly, he did not seem fazed by the crowds milling around him. 'We can do business here. It is no problem for you.'
    Ecstasy cost €10 (£6.81) a pill, and about seven grams (a quarter of an ounce) of hashish was double that. Cocaine was €50 per gram, and was bound in layers of wrapping film which the Senegalese dealer admitted allowed him to swallow the drugs in case of emergency.
    He operated opposite the superclub, Eden. This, he claimed, was British dealing turf. It was also the stretch where a Liverpool drugs gang recently opened fire on Moroccan rivals, injuring two teenagers from Northern Ireland who stumbled between the two sides. One was struck in the chest; the other remains in hospital after an operation to remove a bullet from his jaw. Doctors said he would have died instantly had it been a fraction higher.
    None of the dealers The Observer spoke to claimed to know the gunmen. Nor did they reveal who supplied the drugs they peddled. These are the foot soldiers of the criminal empires that supply Ibiza's partygoers with their narcotics, and they are never told which gang mastermind is behind their employment.
    However, Soca officers confirmed last week that they have intensified their scrutiny of the links between Ibiza and the Costa del Sol, from where some of Britain's most wanted drug barons run their empires. Co-operation with Spain's Special Central Unit for Locating Fugitives (UCLF) has recently been stepped up. At least six suspected major British criminals have been arrested in the province of Malaga, including Brian Wright, who is alleged to have smuggled £300m of cocaine into Britain.
    Among those understood to be wanted in connection with San Antonio's drug supply is Mickey Green, 62, known as the Pimpernel. He is one of the most senior figures in Britain's underworld, and has been on the run for 20 years. Green was recently linked to a £150m cocaine-smuggling syndicate and has close connections with the Adams family, the London gangsters. Pat Adams, the eldest of the brothers, is understood to be in hiding in Andalucia, while the body of one dealer known to have links to the notorious north London family has been discovered butchered and stuffed into two trunks near Torremolinos.
    Another British dealer suspected of supplying Ibiza is Mark Murray, the man in charge of dealing at the Essex club where the pill that killed Leah Betts was bought. Leah died at her 18th birthday party in 1995.
    Up to 39 British-organised crime syndicates on the Costa del Sol have been identified as being involved in major drugs supply. A 26-year-old British dealer was recently arrested near Marbella with false passports, eight mobile phones and a British-registered Mitsubishi 4x4. Another British gang tried to smuggle 50 kilos of cocaine in a liquid paste inside shampoo bottles using couriers throughout Britain and in Ibiza.
    But it is the marked increase in violence that has most perturbed police.
    The latest Interpol intelligence confirms the arrival of armed British gangs liaising with their Spanish counterparts to import cocaine from Colombia and MDMA, the basic chemical ingredient of ecstasy, from the drug factories of the Netherlands, to Ibiza.
    Less reliant on the traditional supply of hashish from Morocco, the acquisition of firearms characterises this new breed of dealer. The Liverpool syndicate at the centre of the continuing shooting investigation is reported to have issued death threats to rivals. Officers know that under the modern code of organised crime any violent opportunity that could pay is rarely spurned.
    Attention will shift again this week to the white-walled villas dotted high above the bustling streets of San Antonio. Tucked among the bushes of wild thyme thrumming with cicadas are the £1,000-a-week properties rented by the drug gangs' middlemen.
    Thirteen people have been arrested so far following the shooting, 12 of them British. More are expected to follow. A rifle, ammunition, baseball bats and machetes have been found in the so-called 'pills in the hills' investigation along with a black, bullet-riddled BMW, whose British driver remains under armed guard in San Antonio's hospital with gunshot wounds to his back.
    Some believe the investigation has come too late. For years, dealers have exploited a lack of customs officials monitoring the ports of Ibiza town, the island capital, and San Antonio. British police have complained of a lack of intelligence-led policing.
    CCTV cameras introduced recently to catch dealers have succeeded only in moving them. 'The problem is they have just moved the dealers away from the cameras, onto quieter streets where there are fewer clients and less money to make,' said Pantalioni, the police chief.
    He does not know the number of arrests for drugs offences in his area this summer, nor where the dealers who operate in San Antonio are from. He does not even know whether British undercover police are patrolling his town.
    Officials from Soca admit they are concentrating on monitoring 'major faces' and are content to ignore British drug users. 'It's recreational use in Ibiza. The question is how harmful is an individual's consumption to the interests of the UK? Not very,' said one source.
    The failure to eradicate the huge import of drugs to such a small island has fuelled conspiracy theories that the trade has been allowed to flourish. The economy of Ibiza is heavily dependent on a clubbing scene - its unemployment rate remains well below the Spanish average - which has flourished partly thanks to the island's liberal attitude to drugs. Certainly the purity of the drugs consumed in Ibiza seems to be remarkably consistent; the island has yet to report a single fatality from ecstasy or cocaine use. Rachel is among a generation that believes drugs are safer than alcohol. 'We're here to dance, have a laugh,' she said. 'Is that a crime?'

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