There has been no dominant clan in Son Banya since the fall of 'La Paca'. | MDB


Senior figures from the Guardia Civil and National Police believe that the 'fortification' of Son Banya in the form of a massive barricade of trash and wrecked vehicles is indicative of the lack of a dominant clan in the shanty town.

A veteran National Police officer says that until a few years ago when 'La Paca' controlled Son Banya, the creation of such a barricade would have been "unthinkable".

Francisca Cortés Picazo, now 70, once inspired fear and respect in equal measure. A combination of arrest and imprisonment, a sense in which she had become a drugs celebrity, and the squandering of her drugs empire by two of her children, 'El Ico' and 'La Guapa', removed her clan from its position of dominance.

When she was in charge, the officer points out, the last thing that the drugs supermarket would have wanted would have been to draw attention to itself. "With the earthworks and parapets they are achieving the precise opposite, and this reveals that there is no iron hand to direct the shanty town. The different clans can't agree among themselves and certain ones now want to impose themselves on others."

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The police view, therefore, is that one of the families has sought to gain the respect of others with works of a kind never previously seen in Son Banya. It is as spectacular as it will only be ephemeral.

The apparent show of force is a big mistake. The officer adds: "Whenever they have gone head-to-head with the police, they have found themselves with static surveillance points, which is the last thing they want, or with blockades, which drain their business."

A senior Guardia Civil officer says that fortification of the type that has been created will not be effective against a determined police attack. "What's taken them months to build can be demolished in an hour."

In the past, he notes, there were times when children and women were placed in the front line to hinder police advance. "A perverse tactic, but effective because we couldn't use the desired force and they had time to get rid of the drugs."

With the fortification there is a change of strategy and it is one that the police argue will make the lives of the clans "very difficult".