Drug Trafficking Gang Convictions Upheld by the Supreme Court Following Tenerife Shooting

The Supreme Court (TS) has upheld the convictions of seven individuals for their involvement in cocaine and hashish trafficking, totaling 29 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of seven and a half years and a minimum of two, along with fines totaling 587,500 euros, ranging from 400 to 300,000 euros.

The investigation leading to the arrests of the group began after a shooting incident and vehicle fire in January 2018 near a bar in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Subsequently, it was suspected that there was a criminal network involved in drug trafficking, which obtained its supply through theft from other drug traffickers, a practice known as “giving the change”. This raised the possibility that the shooting at the bar was related to settling scores.

Collaborative efforts of various law enforcement agencies revealed the existence of multiple criminal groups or networks, consisting of seven people, responsible for the organization, storage, and distribution of narcotics.

Investigations continued throughout 2019 and resulted in the interception of a consignment of nearly half a kilogram of cocaine, valued at around 30,000 euros, leading to the arrest of three individuals.

Following the seizure, raids on residences in Arona led to the discovery of simulated firearms, as well as quantities of MDMA, hashish, and cocaine. Similar findings were made in La Matanza de Acentejo, where 143 grams of cocaine and 28,000 euros were confiscated.

Two of the defendants attempted to conceal substances in a vehicle, which upon interception, revealed 149,000 euros and various quantities of cocaine and hashish.

At another residence in La Guancha, one of the detainee’s father surrendered 21,500 euros, 159 grams of cocaine, and 734 grams of hashish.

The last raid took place at the end of 2019 in a home in San Miguel de Abona, where almost 7,800 euros were found concealed under the sink.

The initial judgment of the Provincial Court was appealed to the Criminal Chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary Islands (TSJC), which rejected the defense’s arguments, a decision that has now been upheld by the Supreme Court.

The appeals alleged violations of fundamental rights and the lack of evidence establishing the illicit origin of the confiscated assets. The Supreme Court responded by indicating that this would be determined upon analysis of the individuals’ high standard of living and reported income.

One of the detainees claimed to have acquired a property with lottery winnings from 2016, and another cited winnings from 2019 shortly before arrest. However, the court ruled out money laundering at that time and emphasized ongoing investigation into events dating back to 2018.

It was also noted that despite one individual registering as self-employed, there was no evidence of any actual work activity.

Therefore, the Supreme Court maintains that the confiscation of bank accounts, parking spaces, motorcycles, and profits obtained since the commencement of illegal activities should stand.

An additional appeal was lodged against the legality of telephone wiretapping, which was also upheld when it was established that the measure was not based on mere police intuition or vague suspicions, but on the seriousness of the events and indications of other associated crimes.

The TS concluded that the telephone interception was justified due to the “extreme seriousness” of the events, including the identification of three individuals involved in the earlier shooting, which also pointed to illicit weapon possession and criminal organization.

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