Deaths at sea as suspected smugglers crash into customs vessel

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FOUR suspected drug traffickers were killed on the afternoon of Thursday November 3 after being involved in a chase with a patrol boat of the Customs Surveillance Service of the Tax Agency after ignoring demands that they stop.

The officers sighted a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) in the Straits of Gibraltar and suspected that the vessel was carrying drugs. As they chased the 12 metre RHIB which was powered by three engines, the RHIB veered into their path and crashed about 12 miles south of Estepona.

Action was taken immediately to try to rescue the men and when their bodies were brought on board, despite trying to resuscitate them, all were dead, whilst one of the officers suffered a broken collar bone and all suffered from shock.

The bodies were taken to the port of Algeciras for identification and autopsy but relatives of the four men arrived in the area and reportedly shouted insults at the officers who were guarded by Local Police and officers of the Guardia Civil. 

On the following day, family and friends of those who died marched through Algeciras to protest against the customs officers and the deaths of the four men.

The special delegate of Andalucia, Ceuta and Melilla Tax Agency, Alberto Garcia, said the judicial investigation remains open, pointing out that the priority of the officers was to rescue the crew after the accident but sadly they could not save the four men’s lives.

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