It was just another sunny afternoon on a Spanish beach — until the drug traffickers showed up.
A video published Monday on YouTube shows a large, black dinghy being unloaded of its illegal wares on a busy beach in broad daylight as onlookers stare in disbelief.
Around a dozen crew members can be seen running back and forth from the boat to the shore at Tonelero beach in La Linea de Concepción, a stretch of coast close to Morocco in southern Spain. The type of cargo isn't visible in the footage, but Spanish police told VICE News it was packages of marijuana.
A voice can be heard in the background repeatedly expressing astonishment: "No way… unloading there… at six in the afternoon, loads of people around… No way."
Spanish police said they believe the incident took place between last Wednesday and Friday, and that those responsible have not been caught. The drugs were not seized either.
A statement from the Spanish Association of Civil Guards, the national police force responsible for rural areas, ports and highways, said the situation at La Linea de Concepción is "out of control."
"This is not down to the excellent work of the Civil Guards working in that area but because of the ever more worrying lack of staff and resources within the Civil Guard… We feel powerless," the statement said.
Juan Antonio Delgado, from the Unified Association of Civil Guards (AUGC), told VICE News that there were between 50 and 60 mafia groups operating in the province of Cadiz where Tonelero beach is located — about the same number that operate in the provinces of Madrid and Barcelona, which both have far greater populations.
Delgado said social deprivation and unemployment are creating "desperation" among locals, and are crucial factors in driving drug trafficking. Cadiz, the province's eponymous capital city, has the highest unemployment rate in Spain, where nationally more than a fifth of the population is out of work.
"The facts are there. Every time we detain someone we see the impact of the economic crisis in that person's life," Delgado said. "It is not just a police matter, but [a matter of] employment policy and development of the area."
When asked how local police could combat drug traffickers, Delgado said, "The mafias are businesses which invest in the latest technology. They were using GPS before us. "
The Civil Guard has even intercepted helicopters loaded with drugs, he added.
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