British expats fear Costa del Crime is back with a vengeance

Published:  3 Dec at 6 PM
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Over 120 mafia-style international gangs are now operating across Spain’s Costa del Sol.

Once infamous as a safe haven for British crooks, Spain’s Costa del Sol is now home to a huge British expat community, most of whom are retirees looking for a peaceful life in the sunshine. Tragically, over the past two years, the region has again become a hub for ruthless mafia-style gangs struggling to take over the highly lucrative drug-trafficking hotspot.

The reasons for the huge increase in violent crime are purely geographic, with a major police crackdown on the former Campo de Gibraltar hub forcing the gangs to move further along the coastline. In addition, following the Spanish and Irish police crackdown on Irish mafia activity some two years ago, the region’s mafia overlords were forced to flee to Dubai, leaving a massive power vacuum. Nowadays, some 120 gangs are operating along the southern Spanish coastline, with gang wars and rivalries taking over the entire area.

Gun battles and murders have taken place in full view of locals and expat retirees, thus providing a horrendous glimpse into this flourishing criminal underworld. For resident expats, assassinations in broad daylight, bombings of property, the burning down of beach clubs and other forms of gang warfare are decidedly not why expats from the UK arrived in this favourite retirement hub.

Brits with businesses catering for the local foreign community as well as for summer tourists have been hit hard by the ever-increasing violence, and retirees are now reluctant to go out in the evenings in case they get caught up in yet another gang war. Several of this year’s attacks actually took place in gated communities catering for expats, with tourists as well as expats on nights out in town being forced to flee as gang members are shot dead on the streets. Between April last year and now, police have been called to 17 assassinations or kidnappings, all of which are deemed to have been drug-related.
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