'La Paca', who has spent periods of time in prison. | Pere Bota


The Guardia Civil operation against drugs trafficking and money laundering on Thursday eventually led to the arrest of twenty people; there may yet be more arrests. It was island-wide but the main targets were neighbourhoods in Palma, one of which was the shanty town of Son Banya. While raids were mostly made in the morning, the operation extended into the afternoon, which was when Son Banya was targeted, as was one person in particular - 'La Paca', the infamous drugs matriarch.

Francisca Cortés Picazo, now 66, has spent periods of time in prison. In summer 2008, for instance, Operation Kabul resulted in the dismantling of her entire clan (as was then). She nearly escaped prison because of a legal challenge to the use of phone tapping. The Supreme Court in Madrid finally upheld a sentence of five and a half years, having validated the phone tapping evidence.

In September 2009, while she was in prison, the National Police set about attempting to find her hidden assets. An annexe to her home in Son Banya was where the police looked. A concrete block was removed and a large hole in the ground was discovered.

There were five boxes full of notes. It took the police several days to count it all - 4.3 million euros, added to which were 385,000 euros that were found in another box inside her home. The police also unearthed jewellery with a combined weight of seven kilos.

In 2019, a television mini-series was made about her life.