Yet another mafia-related expat murder in Spain

Published:  31 Oct at 6 PM
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Last Saturday evening, an expat dining with his girlfriend at a Torremolinos restaurant was gunned down and killed by an assassin.

Hamza Ziani was shot four times in the chest and head, dying a few hours later in Malaga’s regional hospital. His killer was masked, and escaped with an accomplice in a stolen vehicle after a police chase on the motorway. Ziani, a Dutch citizen originally from Northwest Africa, was recognised immediately by police as an international drug dealer who’d been arrested in Marbella a month previously for making a bomb found on a construction site and detonated via a controlled explosion. According to Spanish police, the murdered man was in a drugs war with one of the Netherlands’ most wanted mob supremos.

Riduan Tagli is known to have ordered up to 20 assassinations in order to protect his €100 million cocaine empire, with Ziani’s murder the latest attempt at score-settling along the Costa del Sol. To the dismay of Spanish nationals and resident expats alike, this past year has seen gang warfare explode in the region, with the Dutch drugs gangs battling each other for prominence in the cocaine business. Estepona saw another assassination at the beginning of October, and last week police announced a haul of six tonnes of cocaine concealed in a shipment of bananas.

Other recent events linked with the region’s escalating gang warfare problem include the two bombs in Benhavis and Marbella, and 13 mafia gangs are now believed to be active in the region. The gangs are mostly operating in a triangle linking Fuengirola, Estepona and Marbella, all of which are popular destinations for UK expat retirees. Extortion, money-laundering, arms and drugs dealing, robberies, sex trafficking and more are on their agendas, and other criminals are being attracted to the region as a result. According to one police officer, the region is now a ‘United Nations of bad guys’, as the gangs include members from all over the EU.
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