British criminal gangs have always been involved in turf wars or acts of revenge but these used to take place in their own backyards. In recent years Nueva Andalucía has become the preserve of Britons with criminal connections. There have been a number of shootings, some deadly, in what the National Police call the “settling of accounts” largely amongst drug traffickers.
The latest of these cases was the Thursday of last week just before 15.15 when the 091 emergency room of the local police in Marbella received a call to say there had been a shooting in the calle del Califa. A number of shots were discharged and a person injured.
When officers arrived there was no injured man to be found but eyewitnesses informed them the shooting had indeed taken place with the victim shot in the leg. It is understood the gunman arrived on the back of a motorbike; had got off and shot the victim as he talked with another man in the street. The gunman was then driven off at speed whilst the injured man was taken away in a four wheel drive vehicle.
Police searched the scene and found two spent cartridges which corresponded with the number of shots heard. However there was no sign of blood and no hospital or health centre had treated anybody for gunshot wounds.
From speaking to witnesses police say they are sure those involved were British. Tragically this is nothing new for Nueva Andalucía where one of the more serious shootings was in December 2009 when a Briton was shot three times, with one bullet entering his head.
However the worst case was back in December 2004 when gunmen shot and killed a 7-year-old boy and a 36-year-old hairdresser outside the Andalucía Plaza Hotel. Also injured in the hail of bullets were three other people. This case probably did not involve Britons although one of the gunmen spoke in English.
The tragic events took place at 17.30 on a Saturday afternoon when three heavily armed men got out of an Audi car parked outside the hotel leaving a fourth man at the wheel. They walked to a BMW parked outside the Cosmo hairdressers, which is part of the hotel building, and fired at a man sitting in the passenger seat. Eyewitnesses then say that the trio ran to the entrance of the hotel and one of the men fired a hail of bullets inside. The men were armed with automatic rifles and reports state that police found over 100 spent shells at the scene of the shooting.
Killed in the outrage was the 36-year-old Italian male owner of the hairdressers. Slain too was a seven-year-old boy from Sevilla who was on a short holiday to Marbella. He was waiting in the interior of the hotel for members of his family when around 6 bullets hit him in the abdomen. His aunt and another family member were amongst those injured.
After the shooting, an Algerian-born French businessman, without any known previous convictions, went to Marbella National Police station and told officers that he believed that he was the target of the killers. The businessman is involved in the exclusive fashions industry and commutes between Paris and Marbella. He was in the hairdressers at the time of the shooting.
He claims that he did not know the identity of the four men but they appeared to be looking for a second man after shooting his colleague sitting in the BMW. The injured man, who also has no previous convictions, has been described as the Frenchman’s friend and bodyguard. A pistol was found beneath the BMW car and officers have arrested him in his hospital bed on charges of alleged possession of an illicit firearm.
Today the Costa del Sol is a shooting gallery for rival gangsters. British criminals there are a plenty plus various Italian mafias, Russians, Eastern Europeans and bad guys and girls from other nations. The only difference is now the Spanish police work closely with their counterparts in these countries. Hence if you turn a corner and face a man or woman with a gun they are just as likely to be from the police as a gang member.