ALGECIRAS – In the provincial court of Cádiz in Algeciras, the largest trial against drug trafficking gangs that has been held in Spain so far will start on Monday (today). The suspects are the brains of the ‘Castaños‘ clan and 151 of its employees.
The gang leader is Antonio Tejón, one of the most active drug trafficking gangs in the problem area of Campo de Gibraltar. Here, in and around the Rock of Gibraltar and the Bay of Algeciras, a lively drug trade has been going on for years, which the authorities have found difficult to contain.
RTVE.es reports that the prosecutor is demanding a total of 1,787 years in prison and more than €15 billion in fines for Antonio Tejón, ‘el Castaña’, and the 151 employees. With those collaborators, Tejón managed, even from prison, to maintain a network of “ceaseless” activity to introduce hashish packages from Morocco to the Andalucian coast. Those activities continued even during the lockdowns throughout the covid pandemic.
Provincial court amended
The scale of this process is such that the Junta de Andalucía has invested more than €150,000 to adapt the Provincial Court of the Province of Cádiz, headquartered in Algeciras. The defence platform has been expanded in the courtroom on the first floor, where the majority of the defendants will also be seated, along with the judges, prosecutors and lawyers.
The rest of the defendants will be in the ground floor interrogation rooms, where screens and a computer system have been installed. That way they can continuously follow the process live. Then, only when called to testify do they go to the first floor.
The judges themselves will also be able to see images of the other rooms where the defendants are located at any time via a closed circuit. 32 sessions are scheduled for this huge trial against the ‘Bende van de Chestnuts’.
Possibly 15 years and 9 months in prison
This process is particularly directed against Antonio Tejón, who leads this clan along with his brother Francisco, ‘Isco’. In addition, it is directed against the network he worked with in 2020 from his preventive detention for another case related to drug trafficking.
In his letter, to which Efe had access, the anti-drug prosecutor is demanding 15 years and 9 months in prison and a fine of €104 million for crimes against public health, shelter and smuggling (for the use of banned drug boats) and membership of a criminal organisation.
Rest of the defendants divided into two groups
The rest of the defendants are divided into two groups: the 45 who were part of the highest echelons of the organisation and another hundred who worked for them and did less relevant tasks, such as surveillance or collecting packages.
The Public Prosecution Service is asking for two fines of €50 million for them together. But per suspect, the prison sentences are different depending on their take and degree of participation.
The investigation that led to the ‘Dismantle’ case was carried out in 2020 by the OCON SUR group of the Guardia Civil. In this, the agents followed this network that in a few months, partly during the lockdown, brought in at least 9,000 kilos of hashish along the Andalucian coasts.
Antonio Tejón ran the network of drug trafficking gangs from prison
According to the prosecution, Tejón distributed the orders through one of his men, who visited him in prison, until he was provisionally released. He was then able to meet members of the gang in various places until he was arrested again.
In the letter, the Public Prosecution Service explains how the network had drug muscles, boats, drones, fishing boats, tractors, trucks and numerous means to obtain their illegal goods.
Just four months after being acquitted in another case, Antonio Tejón returned to the dock. In that other case, he was tried together with his brother ‘Isco’ and fourteen other persons for his alleged relationship with two shipments of hashish that were intercepted in 2016 in La Línea de la Concepción (Cádiz).
The prosecutor had demanded 20 years in prison and a fine of €4 million for the two brothers. Despite this, the court only sentenced ‘Isco’ to three years and one month in prison for a public health offense for hashish trafficking and acquitted the rest. That acquittal was due to the fact that a direct link between those suspects and the two drug charges “could not be considered proven”.