This video and article originally appeared on VICE Spain
Since 2016, criminal gangs have occupied more than a hundred flats in central Barcelona, turning them into so-called "narcopisos" – spaces where drugs are sold and used. Neighbours living in what were previously peaceful areas complain of fights, stabbings and sometimes being terrorised out of their own homes.
VICE's new film – which you can watch above – investigates how these narcopisos operate, how they affect the city's residents and why they are so prevalent in Barcelona.
In making the documentary, VICE Spain visited a drug squat in the central Barcelona neighbourhood of El Raval, just hours after the police had raided it. The landlord gave us a tour of the flat and pointed out all the damage that had been done to the space in the seven months it had been used as a crack house. There were box-loads of syringes and vials, heroin, and blood splattered up the walls.
The El Raval flat wasn't the only drug squat that was raided that day. The city-wide crackdown targeted 26 crack houses, leading to 55 arrests. Around 700 officers from a wide range of special forces were deployed, plus a helicopter and 100 regular police officers. After a months-long investigation, authorities were able to dismantle the central criminal operation that ran many of those narcopisos.
Scroll down to see photos from VICE Spain's visit to the El Raval drug squat in October of 2018.