Drug gangs cost taxpayers millions in stolen electricity in Spain

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National Police
SIPHONED: Illegal hook-ups using €150m of electricity.

DRUG dealers and other criminals are stealing millions of kilowatts of public electricity every day according to Endesa.

The electricity company estimates that 59 million kilowatts were siphoned off from illegal hook-ups last year alone.

That is equivalent to the amount Almeria City would consume in an entire month. Most of the illegal hook-ups are found in El Puche, Los Almendros, Pescaderia and Torrecardenas.

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Residents of these neighbourhoods suffer frequent electricity cuts due to criminal activity, predominantly in the marihuana growing business.

Endesa says thousands of its clients are affected. In Almeria Province, the company has recorded an 89 per cent increase in electricity fraud in the past two years.

Last year there were 5,471 confirmed cases. So far in 2017, there have been 1,950 supply cuts due to fraudulent hook-ups, the vast majority outside Almeria City.

Endesa engineers are now working with the police to uncover illegal hook-ups and, by default, dozens of marihuana plantations.

Power cuts aren’t the biggest risk for neighbours. A badly connected hook-up fuelling the growth of 70 marihuana plants caught fire in Roquetas in September, forcing 30 innocent people to evacuate their homes.

In the Pescaderia neighbourhood alone, Endesa have forked out more than €75,000 to repair damage caused by criminals this year.

Across Spain the gangs steal roughly €150m of electricity a year.

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