The old bakery that was being used as a squat was boarded up two weeks ago. | Alejandro Sepúlveda


Guardia Civil officers passing themselves off as holidaymakers and residents are part of the operation to try and keep the peace between gypsy clans and Algerian gangs in Arenal (Llucmajor).

Tension has risen in recent weeks, much of this to do with a fight to control the sale of drugs. On top of this are crimes such as muggings committed by Algerians. These led to the incident a fortnight ago when some 200 people surrounded a squat and threatened to lynch a group of young Algerian men.

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The Guardia and the National Police, who are liaising closely and sharing information, don't believe that the Algerians who were forced out of the Son Gotleu district of Palma by residents are the ones who have been stealing in Arenal and Playa de Palma. "They are different groups," says a senior police officer.

Three Algerian criminals in particular, who moved from the squat (which was boarded up on the order of Llucmajor town hall and police) to another one nearby, are said to no longer feel "untouchable" and are afraid of what might happen to them. They were in fact attacked last week on the promenade in Playa de Palma. The National Police have since made five arrests in connection with this assault.

As well as plainclothes officers, heavily armed Guardia Civil are patrolling the area. "It is important that they are visible, as this is a warning - not everything goes in Playa de Palma and Arenal."