By Humphrey Carter
THE Balearic Guardia Civil yesterday took possession of a new one-million-euro high-speed launch as the security force prepares to launch a new offensive against organised crime in the region later this month. The arrival of the Río Alfambra means that the Balearics now has a fleet of four high-speed launches with the maritime patrols' primary concerns being the war against the trafficking of drugs and contraband, preventing illegal immigration, the control of recreational vessels and assisting in sea rescue and search operations when required. Yesterday's presentation, at which the new Guardia Civil crew was also sworn in, was presided over by the director general of the Guardia Civil the Majorcan Joan Mesquida, central government delegate to the Balearics, Ramón Socías and the commander of the Guardia Civil in the Balearics, José Emilio Roldán. The Guardia Civil's maritime unit has only been operating in the Balearics since 1997 but since then has responded to 21.000 incidents and participated in 125 rescues. Mesquida stressed the importance of the unit's role, especially in the war on drugs, highlighting the success of the joint-operation carried out at the end of last month in Ibiza and Malaga which led to 10 tons of hashish being seized.
ORGANISED CRIME
During yesterday's ceremony Joan Mesquida also revealed that a new Guardia Civil organised crime fighting unit will become operational in the Balearics before the end of the month. Initially, the new unit was not expected to be launched before the end of the year, but the director general revealed yesterday that a fresh war against organised crime here in the Balearics will be launched within the next few weeks. The special unit comprises of experts in surveillance, the investigation of mafias and organised gangs dedicated to smuggling drugs and laundering money. The Guardia Civil chief said that the Balearics is becoming an increasingly popular base for organised criminals although they appear to be more active on the mainland.

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