DRUG dealers in Madrid are using addicts to clean their homes and even collect ‘merchandise.’ Cañada Real, an infamous settlement of shacks on the outskirts of the city, caters at street-level for drug takers and dealers but has its own quota of addicts. The furthest-gone can be seen cleaning the houses of the leaders of local gypsy drugs clans, cleaning their homes and hosing down the mud and dust outside.
Addicts are given more than domestic tasks and are also sent to pick up more supplies and are also told to sell to other addicts and attract new clients.
Sometimes they are posted outside a dealer’s door as a silent advertisement for what is on sale inside or to watch for police patrols while the clans concentrate on buying and selling merchandise.
A 37-year-old addict who gave his name as Francisco Alvarez worked during the daytime for gypsy dealers, selling to users, he told ABC newspaper.
“I earn €20 a day that way, plus any wraps I’m given,” he said. “But don’t let’s talk more,” he begged the reporter.
“They’re watching me,” he warned. “The other day a journalist came here and spoke to an addict like me and when they’d gone they beat her up so badly that she’s still in intensive care.”
A nearby police patrol later pointed out a woman using illegally-diverted water to hose down the entrance to one of the ramshackle houses. “We took in her son-in-law for a killing,” said one officer.
But the unofficial cleaners were not the worst off in Cañada Real. Addicts who had truly reached rock bottom collected used syringes to earn a few euros, according to the police.