The Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, together with the director of the Intelligence Center against Terrorism and Organized Crime, Manuel Navarrete, presented on Tuesday a National Action Plan against Crime Associated with the Production and Trafficking of Marijuana, when Spain already leads the production of this drug on a European scale, after having almost doubled the Netherlands, until now the largest producers. So far in 2021 the security forces and bodies have seized more than three million plants. A new record, which is exceeded year after year in our country and which denotes the enormous dimensions of an illicit business.
Interior is now trying to join forces with all police forces, coordinated by the Intelligence Center against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO), to combat the production and trafficking of this drug, which, despite having greater social acceptance, It is being manipulated to increase its levels of THC (psychoactive component of the plant) and is already a “serious danger to public health”, as they have pointed out.
There are several reasons that have led to this new plan, which is more a declaration of intent than a set of concrete measures. On the one hand, the “alarming and constant progression of seizures” by members of all the security forces and bodies. On the other, the “implantation in Spain of numerous Balkan gangs” specialized in the distribution of this drug throughout Europe. Some organizations that are associated with “an increase in violence and crime”, with the consequent introduction of weapons in our territory, have highlighted.
In addition, the plan aims to address “the difficulties of destruction of plants” apprehended. The plantations have increased ten times in size: “From 1,200 plants to 12,000 in recent years,” according to Navarrete. And they want to exercise “greater control over the proliferation of cannabis associations and clubs.” Finally, it seeks to put an end to the (non-industrial) hemp fever that has caused so many headaches to the security forces, who are eager to dismantle – using a diffuse legality – huge plantations.
The overall objective of this plan is, as Marlaska explained, “to enhance coordination and cooperation between all State security forces and bodies and increase their effectiveness throughout the national territory to reduce the level of threat posed by cultivation and trafficking. illegal of the cannabis plant and its derivative products ”.
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In the cultivation of cannabis and the trafficking of marijuana, “true transnational organizations are already operating with a powerful polycriminal activity and provided with great logistics and mobility,” they point out in Interior. “Their action is generating an increase in intracriminal violence and towards the security forces, as well as the appearance of associated crimes such as money laundering, human trafficking or the promotion of irregular immigration for the labor exploitation of the victims they care for. the cultivation plantations, where they are subjected to inhumane working conditions ”, highlighted Marlaska. As well as fraud against electricity companies due to supply diversions to covered plantations.
“Before they were groups that were not organized and now they are true criminal networks to facilitate logistics,” said the minister. “They have experienced enormous growth in recent years, and there are already as many organizations as those dedicated to cocaine or hashish,” he added.
According to experts, the reasons why Spain is now the leading country in Europe in the production and export of marijuana have to do with the climatic conditions that occur in the country, with the amount of soil and unpopulated areas, with the many empty rooms and warehouses, and with easy access to seeds and plant growth equipment.
Greater criminal reproach
There are three objectives of the Plan presented this Tuesday: “Increase the detection and dismantling of organized crime groups dedicated to these criminal activities; decrease the distribution channels of marijuana, and favor destruction – if possible in situ– of the plantations, as well as the disabling and / or destruction of the means used for cultivation ”.
Regarding a regulatory change that raises criminal charges for crimes associated with the production and trafficking of marijuana, Minister Marlaska remained cautious, although he did not deny that it is an issue that is under study. “We are evaluating proposing regulatory changes if necessary and precise, but that must be done with reflection because there is a principle of proportionality that we must adapt to the circumstances. It requires more reflection ”, he said.
The plan will be valid for one year, although it may be revised and extended if necessary, and will be coordinated by CITCO.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.