By Humphrey Carter A ring of steel has been thrown up around the Balearics to ensure maximum security this summer. “Operation summer 2003” officially came into effect on July 1 with an extra 347 members of the Guardia Civil, 1.663 in total, on special summer protection in the Balearics, where the operation will be lasting longer than elsewhere in Spain. Reason for the extra presence of police here is not only because of the high numbers of holidaymakers, but also because the Spanish royal family spend their summers at Marivent Palace on the outskirts of Palma. A late surge in holiday bookings is also believed to have been behind the Guardia Civil's decision to extend the operation from September 15, when extra police will be returned to normal duties on the mainland, until the end of the month. A total 42.980 officers are on summer duty across Spain this year and the operation has a multitude of security roles. Citizen safety will be paramount, but the Guardia Civil summer units will also be assisting in forest fire protection duties, the crack down on petty crime, improving and assisting victim attention and stepping up anti-illegal immigration border controls, especially in southern Spain and in the Mediterranean. extra Guardia Civil will be on coastal patrol, also monitoring maritime traffic and pleasure boats. There will also be a much larger presence of Guardia Civil Traffic police on the busy roads, there will nearly 9.000 extra traffic cops. The TEDEX bomb squad has also been reinforced with 22 special bomb disposal experts, three in the Balearics, to guard against terrorism. Colonel Francisco Morales, head of Guardia Civil special operations, with regards to the terrorist threats this summer said “thanks to the continued success of police operations, terrorism activities have been greatly reduced, although the risk remains and it would not be too difficult to plant an explosive device on a beach.” 170 of the Guardia Civil deployed to the Balearics have yet to be given specific roles and are on stand by to assist where needed, depending on which issues develop into key problems over the peak summer season period. Another important focus of attention during this summer's security operation will be the trafficking and dealing of designer drugs. Special plans have been drawn up which will involve severe spot fines and the crackdown on the consumption of drugs in public places and driving under the influence of drugs, especially ecstasy. Last summer, just under 1.000 kilos of hashish were seized in various parts of Spain, 18.7 kilos of cocaine, 3.2 kilos of heroin and a record 22.330 ecstasy tablets. people were arrested for drug related offences and a further 22.000 cautioned. Another area where an increasing number of arrests are being made each summer is forest fires. Last year, the Guardia Civil, in connection with its nature protection units, arrested 112 people in connection with 2.919 bush fires which destroyed over 50.000 hectares of woodland and countryside across Spain. The guides to how to behave in the country are being distributed to walkers and excursionists this summer and members of the general public are being urged to report any suspicious behaviour in forest fire hot spots.


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