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CRIME

Spanish police bust helicopter drug ring

Spanish police on Sunday said they busted a drug ring suspected of using helicopters to smuggle France-bound hashish and marijuana from Morocco to Spain.

A local police car patrols the streets in a Spanish town.
Spain's proximity to hashish producer Morocco has made it a key entry point for drugs bound for Europe. ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

Officers arrested 11 people and are seeking another 11 suspects in France, Spanish police said in a statement.

Police seized 112 kilograms (247 pounds) of marijuana, 2.4 tonnes of hashish, three helicopters, four guns and ammunition with support from French police and EU crime agency Europol.

The ring is believed to have used helicopters to ferry drugs from Morocco to southern Spain and then to France in trucks and a tour bus with fake licence plates.

Spain’s proximity to Morocco — a major hashish producer — has made it a key entry point for drugs bound for Europe.

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CRIME

Spain police start wearing bodycams to boost security

Spanish police have begun wearing body cameras to record their interactions with the public in a move aimed at ensuring greater security that is gaining ground in Europe and the US.

Spain police start wearing bodycams to boost security

The interior ministry said the bodycam was launched Monday and would be “rolled out on a gradual basis to all police officers”, without saying how many were involved in the initial stages.

Spain’s TVE public television said the tiny cameras were being attached to the officers’ uniforms and could be activated either manually or automatically.

The main Spanish police union JUPOL hailed the move on Twitter, saying it was in response to “a request that the union has been making”.

“It will guarantee security, both for us to avoid any kind of misrepresentation of our interventions, as well as for the public, who will be able to clearly see the police’s professionalism and that there is no abuse of power nor excesses,” union spokesman Pablo Pérez told TVE.

Forces in Europe and the United States are increasingly turning to such technology to boost transparency following a string of fatal shootings and other claims against police over the past decade.

“The cameras are being used under public safety protocols in order to record everything that happens in the event of an unwarranted offence during an operation,” Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska told TVE ahead of the rollout.

“If they are activated, it is to guarantee security and really be transparent so that the officers’ actions can be seen and checked,” the minister said.

“This means security for both the police and the public,” he added, suggesting that in time, they would also be available to Spain’s Guardia Civil rural police force.

France began trialling bodycams, known as “pedestrian cameras”, in 2013
before a gradual rollout in 2015 in a move welcomed by police, but greeted with scepticism by rights groups who said there was no guarantee they would be always activated.

Police in London and New York also began pilot schemes in 2014 with credit-card-sized cameras clipped onto their uniforms with the technology gradually deployed over the following years.

But the cameras have had mixed success. The absence of any legal obligation governing their use can also limit their scope to uncover police misconduct.

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