As news emerged that the Guardia Civil patrol vessel ‘Rio Miño’ had detained a fishing vessel with a huge 9,200kg haul of hashish in Almerian waters, official police data shows 2016 has been a record year for cannabis crime in the region.
More illegal farms have been raided during the first half of this year than the entirety of 2015, said the Guardia Civil and National Police.
More than 300 kilos of the soporific plant has been seized so far.
Growers of the narcotic are apparently concentrated in the coastal area between Nijar and Poniente Almeriense, with most plantations unearthed in uninhabited or unlawfully occupied houses, while others have been found on rural estates.
In this way the green-fingered villains are able to maintain their plants away from prying eyes and maintain the correct environmental conditions, while avoiding sorties by rival drugs gangs.
Such indoor set-ups are typically high-tech, employing specialised lighting, ventilation and hydroponic drip irrigation systems, while meticulous care is lavished on the plants themselves in order to ensure a high-quality product.
Water sourcing has become one of the main ways in which investigators are able to track down the black-market farms, since they often tap into municipal supplies in order to avoid attracting suspicion for high utility bills.
The drugs themselves are not typically sold within the province, where demand is minimal, but sold to northern and central European traffickers who reside in countries with poor growing conditions.
In this way, Almeria has not only cemented its reputation as Europe’s largest wholesale producer of fruit and vegetables, but also exotic greenery of a more illicit nature.