By Humphrey Carter

PALMA'S Local Police GAP preventative action group, which has spent the past six months curtailing the activities of Palma's Latin gangs, announced yesterday that an estimated 100 people, mostly young, are participating in illegal car races every weekend in the city.

GAP officer Oscar Gonzalez, said yesterday that the Son Rossinyol and Son Castello industrial estate have recently become the new centres for weekend illegal races and that over one hundred “extremely well organised people” are taking part in the highly dangerous races. However, while cracking down on the city's Latin and West African gangs, GAP has also been deploying a large number of officers to the two industrial estates and, according to Gonzalez yesterday, appear to be winning the battle.

He said that over the past few months, his unit has managed to reduce the number of illegal races and, as yet, the organisers of the illegal races have not found alternative “race tracks” in the capital.

However, Gonzalez said that the races are very well organised. “The people involved are in regular contact by e-mail and text messages and that makes it much tougher for us to keep track of their movements and plans and therefore harder to stay one step ahead of the organisers and have police on the streets when the car racers arrive for the races.” He explained that the “typical” illegal racer or race fan is aged between 18 and 30 and that cars of all types are raced.
But, he added that the races attract a large number of minors, especially moped and motorbike riders who gather on the periphery of the races to set up their own illegal motorcycle stunt challenges and races.

And, Gonzalez stressed that the illegal races do only appeal to men.
However, the GAP police officer said that the police have found no evidence to suggest that illegal bets are taken on the races. “It would appear that drivers are gathering to simply show off how fast or powerful their vehicles are,” he said.
But, despite the apparent lull in illegal races in Palma, Gonzalez said yesterday that his unit can not guarantee 100 percent that they are not taking place elsewhere in the city and on a smaller scale. “We have not caught anyone red handed,” he admitted “but we do know that we have prevented a number of races from taking place on the two most popular industrial estates,” he added.

The GAP unit was only set up in Pama a year ago and its other responsibilities include the prevention of drug use and alcohol consumption in public places.