by Staff Reporter

PALMA
RAMON Socías, the central government representative to the Balearics, said yesterday that vigilance on the south coast of Majorca would be increased from next week, with a new mobile radar, to deter illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

He said that the new mobile radar unit, which will control suspicious boats spotted of the coast, will reinforce the work of the existing unit in Es Cap Blanc.

He added that the government is also studying the possibility of installing fixed radars in Majorca and Ibiza, to prevent illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

The mobile units can detect suspicious boats at a maximum distance of 30 nautical miles (55 kilometres).
The first mobile unit was brought to the island earlier this month after five small boats with illegal immigrants arrived in Majorca with the space of a few months.

Socias said that the boats made use of the calm sea at full moon to reach the coast from North Africa. He added that a full surveillance operation will be in place within 15 days, coinciding with the next full moon.

The first mobile unit is mounted in a 4x4 240hp van and the radar has a reach of 60 nautical miles (110 kilometres) although its greatest precision is achieved at 25 to 30 nautical miles).

It is equipped with two cameras, one for day time, with a range of up to four miles, and an infrared one with a range of six miles.
It is operational 24 hours a day, and is staffed by a team of 12 specially trained Guardia Civil officers.
The unit has proved to be effective in the Canary Islands and Huelva.
The last boat load of illegal immigrants landed on the Santanyi coast on June 1.
They came from Algeria and had brought suits with them, changing clothes as soon as they landed to pass unnoticed. Some of them caught a bus to Palma, but most of them were arrested in and around the Cala Figuereta area.

They appeared in court and were sent to a holding centre on the Peninsula before being returned to their home country.

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