• Plant seizures have quadrupled in five years, and now exceed three million

The cultivation and trafficking of marijuana in Spain have experienced a “notable increase”, with a “worrying increase in associated crime”. With both adjectives the Minister of the Interior has described this Tuesday, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the degree of threat posed to public health and safety by the “huge growth experienced both in the number of plants and in the number of kilos seized in Spain “.

The minister, accompanied by the director of the Intelligence Center against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO), the General of the Civil Guard Manuel Navarrete, presented this Tuesday the main axes of a National Action Plan against Crime Associated with the Production and Trafficking of Marijuana which will bring together the information and the action of the Civil Guard, the National Police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Ertzaintza, the Navarre Provincial Police, the Customs Surveillance and the Special Anti-drug Prosecutor’s Office.

Representatives of these security forces have held a meeting this day at the headquarters of the Ministry in Madrid to discuss their coordination mechanisms. The minister stressed during the presentation of the plan that it “has no relation whatsoever to the open debate in parliament on the regulation of marijuana and cannabis use “. Its objective is “criminality associated with the production and trafficking of marijuana.”

And this already has measurable dimensions that place Spain at the forefront in production, surpassing the Netherlands for the first time, at least if this is measured by the number of plants seized. So far in the almost extinct year 2021, 3,071,000 plants seized. The figure is almost four times that of five years ago: in 2016 there were 724,611 plants apprehended. It is the measure of what the minister calls “relevant growth.”

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Good country to plant

This increase is due, according to conclusions that the minister has communicated, to the fact that Spain has “climatic conditions and suitable soil, large unpopulated areas and a high number of empty premises “, in addition to” easy access to cultivation equipment and seeds. “

These conditions have attracted international mafias, many of them originating in the Balkans, which, according to the CITCO analysis, use marijuana trafficking as an exclusive activity or as a financial source for other serious criminal activities.

In assessing the threat, Interior includes as a symptom the appearance of small laboratories dedicated to manufacturing cannabis derivatives “with high concentrations of THC,” the minister said. For three years, police tests have detected concentrations of up to 30% of tetrahydrocannabidiol, the psychotropic substance in marijuana. In the 70s, joints that did not reach 15% THC were smoked.

To the smell of the business Mary the “implantation of organized groups” takes place that form international alliances to facilitate the logistics.

The Interior Minister has also spoken of a “relevant increase in the level of violence associated with this activity, in the form of overturns (robberies between drug traffickers) and account adjustments for non-payment and disagreements.” One detail aggravates the analysis: in police seizures, especially in Catalonia, firearms appear.

The security forces involved in the plan perceive the illegal cultivation and trafficking of marijuana associated with five figures of the Penal Code: crime against public health, money laundering, human trafficking for exploitation in crops, fraud of electricity and crimes against the environment, sometimes with indiscriminate logging.

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“The threat to public safety is growing steadily and worryingly,” Grande-Marlaska has considered. This year there have been 4,298 arrests, and in this five years the extensions of plantations have grown: if before between 12,000 and 15,000 plants were discovered, crops of up to 120,000 are now intercepted.

Destroy crops in situ

The Interior plan has three objectives: to increase the detection and dismantling of organized crime groups, to reduce distribution channels and to favor the destruction of plantations.

In this last aspect, the CITCO director has admitted that they have a problem: seizures occupy a large space and give serious custody and storage problems. For this reason, according to Interior sources, a destruction system has been tested in Toledo by means of a harvester that chops the seized plants, except those reserved by the police forces for analysis and presentation to the court. In this way, without burning the drug in the Colombian way, “we contribute to not generating a greenhouse effect,” say sources from the Civil Guard.

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The security forces will also try with this plan to overcome another of their main difficulties in the fight against this type of drug trafficking: finding in the industrial hemp plantations the plants that are crimes of those that are not.

In the plan there is also a desire to cut the corrupting effect of drug trafficking on families, neighborhoods and towns, workers and even police officers. The mafias have “a certain will to inoculate themselves in the social fabric; we want to reduce social and institutional contagion,” the minister replied to questions from EL PERIÓDICO.

Reference-www.elperiodico.com

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