A GUARDIA CIVIL colonel has been cleared of drug trafficking offences even though judges considered the prosecution facts proven.
The Court of Granada has acquitted the colonel because the offences happened between 2005 and 2006. The stature of limitations, however, is five years, so they considered he could not be convicted.
He has also been acquitted of a bribery offence – the Guardia Civil calculated that smugglers paid him €480,000 for turning a blind eye – for lack of evidence.
Judges decided that the colonel had misused his position as head of anti-drug operations to help a gang of traffickers smuggle in hashish through the Grafana coast.
The court heard that the accused made contact with two drug traffickers with whom he devised a way to smuggle hashish into Spain from Morocco via the coast of Granada.
In order not to raise suspicions, the two collaborators told him of three drug landings and the colonel set up surveillance operations on each of them.
But no arrests were made in the first two landings with the colonel justifying this to fellow officers by saying that the arrests would be made on the third landing, and all the drugs recovered.
Not suspecting their own boss, they held back until the third landing and then moved in.
But the drugs they found were of low quality. All the high quality and high value narcotics had been in the first two shipments, which by now had disappeared.
The prosecutor’s office asked that the crime against public health be considered “extremely serious,” something that depends on the amount of substance trafficked.
This would have meant the statute of limitations would have been 10 years – he was arrested nine years after the offences.
But the judges said they could not be sure how big a quantity of drugs were involved, so the lower time limit applied.
The prosecutor requested nine years in prison and a €6.3 million fine for a crime against public health and bribery.
Instead the officer – who was sacked in 2015 – walked free.