STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
SPAIN'S central government delegate in the Balearics, Ramon Socias, moved quickly to quell public concern yesterday by giving reassurances that his department would work “flat out” to ensure that the Islands did not become a “port of entry into Europe” for drug traffickers . His comments follow hot on the heels of covert Guardia Civil operations on Majorca over the last few days in which seven tonnes of hashish were seized.

Socias suggested yesterday that “probably the vessels which transport the illegal drugs pass through the Islands, given the difficulties their crews encounter in disembarking in other parts of Spain.” He said that “things were now difficult” for the traffickers who most recently will have to contend with “more than four” new fixed radar installations which are being set up to keep an eye out for drug smuggling and illegal immigrant passage in coastal waters - one on Ibiza, another on Minorca, and the remaining two in the southern region of Majorca (one on the island of Cabrera). Socias said that the Ibizan installation could be up and running by next summer and that the others will go out to public tender for the operational contract “in the next few months.” Socias confirmed that police drug squad investigations conducted during the early hours of last Sunday morning and throughout Monday resulted in the arrest of three Britons who were aboard a catamaran near the island of Cabrera off the southeastern coast of Majorca. From the vessel, police succeeded in impounding 3'280 kilos of hashish wrapped in 106 separate packages. Another haul was secured when the Guardia Civil acting in conjunction with the coastguard noticed a boat coming from Morocco which was attempting to land in the bay of Alcudia. The raid the security forces carried out on Tuesday resulted in the seizure of 3'500 kilos of hashish in 104 packages, and the arrest of three people, one of them Moroccan, the other two Spanish. Socias said that the bands formed part of one massive drug smuggling cartel, “against which” he said, “we can never lower our guard.”

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