Mafia Conference in Alicante
Staff Reporter / 2006-12-04 14:48:06
Prosecutors from all over Spain met this week in Alicante to discuss organised crime and the mafia at a conference organised by the State General Prosecutor. Experts agreed that international cooperation was required to tackle these groups and to strangle their financing. They are considering stiffening the penal code to increase sentences for association with groups, according to the activities that they engage in, as is currently applied in France.
Money laundering, drug trafficking and new 'cyber-criminality' were among the themes analysed by some 40 representatives under the coordination of Alicante prosecutor Jorge Cabré. He explained, "On many occasions, investigations intended to disband these gangs demand continuity in other countries, for which they need more agile offices like a rogatory commission," which would be authorised to investigate and examine witnesses across borders.
Anticorruption prosecutor for Málaga, Juan Carlos Lí³pez Caballero, called for greater cooperation with customs to board vessels on the high seas, as areas with expanding tourist economies were particularly targeted. There, some 2000 arrests have been made with organised crime links for a wide range of activities and Cabré assured that Alicante has a very similar model.
Facilities for laundering money are attracting mafia groups to Alicante province, where specialist prosecutors warned gangs from Naples and Marseille have settled. Neapolitans are known to control the theft and trafficking of Rolex watches in Spain's tourist areas.
Prosecutors and mafia specialists, Roberta Simeone from Naples and Patricia Ollivier from Marseille agreed the ease of laundering money through property dealings and the strategic location for drug smuggling made Alicante an attractive destination for organised crime.
The notorious Camorra organisation has extended its operations here, assured Simeone, who are characterised by, "The imposition of fear, a law of silence and a control of territory which provokes confrontations between groups." Marseille gangsters while not having the structure of the mafia, "are organised gangs of wrongdoers whose principal activities are drug trafficking, extortion and armed robberies of banks and armoured cars," according to Ollivier.
The Valencian and Andalusian coastlines are used to control drugs coming from Africa from where it can be distributed across Europe, as well as the Spanish connections with South America.
Ollivier went further to state that, "A strong repression is needed, harsher sentences, embargos and confiscation of goods and the intervention of civil society." Simeone announced, "It is planned to create a data bank of important information about people, societies, economic activities and goods to facilitate collaboration between prosecutors."
Italian writer Roberto Saviano published a book on the Camorra clan and was forced into hiding with permanent bodyguards. He asserted in a recent interview that, "The prosecutors and the experts might be worried, but politicians don't seem to be aware of the role the Camorra plays in Spain's economic development." He revealed they were very active in the 1980's building hotels and holiday resorts in the Costa del Sol and Andalusia with their money and cement.