Arrests after Spanish civil guards killed in boat chase with suspected drugs gang

The Guardian

Two officers died and two others injured when their patrol craft was rammed by speedboat off the coast of Barbate

Eight people have been arrested after two Spanish Guardia Civil officers were killed and two more injured when their small patrol boat was rammed by a speedboat driven by suspected drug smugglers off the southern port of Barbate.

Video of the incident, which took place on Friday night, showed a large speedboat hitting the police inflatable launch at high speed. Stretches of Spain’s southern coast have seen a series of violent clashes in recent years between police and smugglers bringing in drugs from north Africa.

The Guardia Civil, which patrols Spain’s ports, roads and borders, said two of the speedboat’s passengers had been arrested, as had three others who had fled and two others who had been waiting on land. It said one of the two injured officers remained in hospital but was out of danger.

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, offered his condolences to the families of the dead officers, who were named as David Perez Carracedo, of the force’s rapid action group, and Miguel Ángel, of its special subaquatic activities group.

“I send my hopes for a swift recovery to the wounded agents,” Sánchez said. “I would also like to recognise the great work of the state security services in their fight against drug trafficking.”

The dead men were posthumously awarded the gold cross of the Guardia Civil’s order of merit for “acting resolutely and rationally to undertake the contingencies and dangers inherent in the fulfilment of their duty, and in defence of others, even at the risk of suffering harm”.

Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, also offered his sympathies on Saturday. “Our deepest condolences go out to the families of the two Guardia Civil officers who were killed last night, and we hope for a quick and full recovery of the third officer who was severely injured,” he said. “We are all united in the fight against drug trafficking. May they rest in peace.”

Their deaths – which have once again laid bare the scale of the violence in the Campo de Gibraltar and the surrounding area – elicited a furious response from a Guardia Civil officers’ association. The AUGC called on Spain’s interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, to resign immediately, saying he was no longer fit to remain in post.

“For years now, we’ve been calling for a real plan … that would provide the Guardia Civil with the means and resources they require to pursue drug-traffickers,” the AUGC said in a statement.


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