Special report: Ibiza's failing drug clampdown

By Lunar Loops · Jul 16, 2007 ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    Oh dear, SWIS can see it now, the solemn shaking of the heads around the breakfast tables of middle England, the cresendo of troubled tutting disturbing the status quo in the leafy suburbs. This fantastical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah is brought to you courtesy of The Torygraph (UK):

    Special report: Ibiza's failing drug clampdown

    By Fiona Govan in Ibiza

    Last Updated: 1:18am BST 16/07/2007

    Ibiza's famous drug-fuelled nightlife is continuing unabated despite a high profile clampdown on the party island which led to a short-lived closure of several clubs at the start of the holiday season.
    [​IMG]Security is high profile, but not always effective

    Three of the island’s most famous dance venues were banned from opening their doors for the first month of the season in a bid by authorities to force them to tackle drug-dealing and consumption among clubbers.
    But as the start of the school holidays bring hordes of teenagers to the island on cheap package deals, the clubs have opened for business once more.
    Amnesia, one of Ibiza’s best known venues, reopened last week after the local government closed it during June for alleged “permissiveness in the sale and trafficking of drugs” and fined it 6,000 euros (£4,070).
    Two other clubs, Bora Bora and DC-10, were also shut down, the latter for two months.

    All the clubs have protested their innocence and are demanding compensation from the authorities for loss of earnings, amid claims that they do everything possible to prevent drugs being consumed on their premises.
    But on a recent night out at one venue that was attended by The Daily Telegraph, clubbers crammed the dance floor and raved the night away, many fuelled by the illegal substances which are still abundantly easy to acquire.
    A small sweaty young man leant over to make himself heard above the thumping music within minutes of our arrival at the club. “Looking for a pill? I’ve got some great stuff,” he said. His offer was followed by countless others in the course of the night.
    Ecstasy, long the favoured drug of dance music fans, can be procured for as little as five euros (£3.40).
    Many clubbers stock up before entering the venues, which do not open their doors until midnight, purchasing pills from dealers loitering in the club car parks.
    [​IMG]Going home, Ibiza style

    Amnesia said its programme for preventing drug trafficking and consumption on the premises had been chosen as a model for discotheques and clubs across Spain.
    “This is a huge blow to our prestige, and that of the islands, gained over three decades of hard-work,” said Magda Estevez, head of public relations, in reference to the enforced closure.
    The head doorman at the club admitted that drugs were an established part of the “Ibiza scene” but one that the club worked hard to control. "Drugs are a social problem that affect everybody working in this business,” he said. “But we do everything we can to make sure that people don’t take drugs here.”
    At the club Eden in the nearby town of Sant Antoni de Portmany security has been stepped up this season. “We work hard to ensure everyone’s safety and now more than ever we are on the lookout for drugs,” said Andrew McCarthy, head of security.
    "Anyone seen taking drugs on the premises will be kicked out and those caught dealing will be handed over to the police,” he said.
    But even inside some clubs, which organisers claim are now stringently policed by their own security guards, dealers still manage to ply their trade.
    “It wouldn’t be Ibiza without the drugs,” said a 21-year-old woman from Liverpool who was holidaying on the island for the third consecutive summer. “It’s all about the music, the dancing and the pills.”
    Her friend took a break from the dance floor. “Getting drugs is as easy as buying a drink at the bar but quite a bit cheaper,” she said.
    In stark contrast to the cost of a pill, the effects of which last several hours, a small bottle of beer sets the customer back 12 euros.
    The controversial sale of “laughing gas” is officially promoted at many of the venues where a “hit” can be bought over the counter for five euros.
    And for those with more money to burn, a gramme of cocaine can be procured easily from dealers in some clubs for around 50 euros.
    Its consumption is so commonplace that it raises few eyebrows.
    At another club a girl sniffed as she raised her finger to tap the side of her nose to invite her friend to join her in a cubicle in the lavatory. Despite signs prohibiting dual occupancy, a female security guard looked on nonchalantly.
    While authorities have long turned a blind eye to recreational drug use on the island, they claim to be enforcing a crackdown on the holiday drug culture which has threatened to spiral out of control.
    Last year problems broke out between rival British drug trafficking gangs who had moved into the area to cash in over the summer months.
    Two innocent British bystanders were injured when shooting broke out between the gangs in the resort town of Sant Antoni de Portmany.
    Last summer, police reported some 900 drug-related incidents, and arrested more than 30 people. There were also several major drug busts, which included a seizure of 12 tons of cannabis and 900 kilograms of cocaine.
    Ibiza, which attracts more than half a million British tourists over the summer season, has also suffered bad publicity after the deaths of foreign clubbers were linked to the liquid ecstasy drug.
    The recent closures followed two years of police investigations.
    The local Diario de Ibiza newspaper reported that, in an investigation of numerous clubs, undercover officers found one unnamed club even had what they termed “snorting cabins” where clubbers could consume their drugs.
    The cabins allegedly came complete with a ledge and a lock and were found to be full of traces of cocaine.
    The government delegate in the Balearic islands, Jose Manuel Bar, said the problem in clubs had become so rife that the government was forced to react.
    “These places will face closure because they allow people to use drugs there. They weren’t dealing with the problem, and we have the police evidence to prove it.”
    “This year, the summer kicked off with overdoses and people in hospital,” said Mr Bar. “But the controls we have implemented will bring those figures down.”
    He admitted that the measures had been tough, but said: “We have to fight against drugs on the island and that means stopping consumption in public places.”
    But the problem is not only one for the big venues to tackle. As the clubs closed their doors at around 7am, The Daily Telegraph witnessed some clubbers continuing their blatant drug taking on the streets of holiday resorts.
    Three young British holidaymakers stooped over a plastic table on a pavement café in San Antoni de Portmany, taking it in turns to snort lines of cocaine undisturbed by a passing police car.

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