Two held over 18,000 ecstasy pills find
Police action stuns bystanders
Over 18,000 ecstasy pills were found in a cardboard box in a parking area next to Luxol grounds, in Pembroke, less than 24 hours after two men were caught and arrested in connection with a drug deal.
The drugs were found at about 1 p.m. in a cardboard vegetable box, indicating it contained green bell peppers. The box was in a crumpled paper bag and hidden in a trench close to an abandoned and disused building formerly known as Raffles disco.
The pills were wrapped in small packages, police sources said.
Barely 24 hours earlier, the police tried to stop a drug deal that was about to take place there. One suspect escaped during the police operation and shots were fired, leaving witnesses in shock.
Two men, from Żebbuġ and Ħamrun, were arrested in connection with the drug find. One was arrested on Monday afternoon at about 4.30 and the second was arrested yesterday morning. They are expected to be arraigned this week.
The police were tipped off that a drug deal was about to take place in the afternoon in the parking area next to the Luxol Sports Complex. They sent about 10 plainclothes policemen in four unmarked cars. About 10 minutes later, two men in two separate cars drove into the grounds and parked.
Almost immediately, the two cars were surrounded by the police.
One man was blocked and handcuffed but the other one tried to escape and even rammed two police cars. His car also crashed into a police van partially blocking the ramp leading to the main road.
In an attempt to stop the man getting away, officers were "forced" to fire at the vehicle's tyres, the police said.
Bystanders later recounted how they were shocked when they heard shots being fired, adding they were surprised no one got hurt.
The shots were fired a short distance away from a group of teenagers who were waiting to be picked up for training. Their waterpolo coach, Mark Galea Pace, said it was a miracle a tragedy did not take place.
"I was shocked. The police fired in a public area and someone could have got hurt," he said.
The operation was planned and the least the police could have done was ask people to move away from the area, Mr Galea Pace said. "All they had to do was tell the kids to move out of the way. They had all the time in the world to do so but they didn't."
He also pointed out that a truck was selling gas cylinders close by. "Imagine if a bullet ricocheted and hit one of the children or a cylinder," he said.
Mr Galea Pace was also upset at the way the police acted. "When I went to speak to the police afterwards to tell them off for their careless behaviour, they held it against me. One of the parents even went to make a formal complaint."
Wednesday, 13th January 2010