Gregory Kirby

Gregory Kirby

POLICE have brought down a band of criminals who manipulated cash machines to trap credit cards and steal thousands.

The fraudsters used a method known as the ‘Lebanese trap’ in which they tampered with cash machine card slots to make people think their cards had been swallowed, police sources said.

And the cards were then intercepted by the criminals along with the pin numbers swindled by placing mobile phones in strategic positions.

The con men would then go to another bank’s ATM to empty the accounts.

The group’s operations were organised and spanned Alicante, Castellon, Murcia, Granada, Tarragona and Girona provinces.

Agents from different units had to be deployed to keep tabs on the gang - said to be of Romanian origin - because of their widespread coverage.

The entire gang has now been tumbled after its leader and three other members were arrested on charges of criminal organisation, fraud and damages.

Investigators have evidence of criminals using the ‘Lebanese trap’ at least 25 times to steal a value of €30,000.

BREXIT is already damaging Spanish exports after trade with the United Kingdom fell for the first time in five years in 2017.

Sales of Spanish products to Britain fell six per cent last year. While trade with the European Union grew eight per cent in the same period, according to the latest Bank of Spain report.

The amount of companies exporting to the UK also dropped by 0.8 per cent, which is more than other destinations, the report said.

A total of seven per cent of all of Spanish exporting firms trade with the UK, the secretary of commerce said.

A quarter of the 11,695 Spanish trading companies only do business with the British Isles. These entities are the “most vulnerable” to Brexit, the Bank of Spain said.

Most of the businesses which trade with the United Kingdom are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - 85 per cent precisely - but the bulk of sales is actually made by large firms.

This offers some hope because these businesses are “on average bigger, more productive and more geographically diversified than those which export to the main countries within the monetary union,” the Bank said.

This could help absorb some of the Brexit effect, it added.

MEGA-EARNERS pocketing at least €30 million per year have doubled in Spain from when the crisis hit in 2007 to 2015.

There were 549 super wealthy people who fell into this category in 2015 compared to just 233 in 2007, according to the latest figures from Spain’s tax agency.

The super rich have been adding to their ranks ever since the economy began to reboot, with 352 in 2011, 443 in 2012, 471 in 2013 and 508 in 2014.

Cataluña is the richest region in terms of multimillionaires with 72,716 taxpayers earning an average of €2,37 million.

Wealth is more concentrated in the capital Madrid where there are 16,977 big earners. But they earn an average of €8,85 million per year, the highest sum in the country.

In Andalucia there are 17,700 raking in €2.3 million on average.

And the poorest region in these terms is Extremadura. It has 907 multimillionaires earning a mean of €2.2 million per year, according to the tax office’s statistics.


WIKILEAKS founder and one of the world’s most wanted men, Julian Assange, has supported Catalan separatists causing a backlash from Spain and the Ecuadorian government.

Late last year Assange hosted two Catalan separatist leaders in Ecuador’s embassy. He said their independence movement was “the most disciplined Gandhian project since Gandhi,” in a tweet.

The Catalan independence movement has landed Spain into its deepest political crisis since the end of Franco’s dictatorship.

Assange reportedly also used social media to support independence efforts from a distance.

Spain’s foreign minister Alfonso Dastis said attempts had been made “to intervene, manipulate and affect what should be the natural democratic course of events in Catalonia.”

Ecuador - which maintains strong links with ex-colonial power Spain - reportedly shut off Assange’s Wi-Fi connection after he trod on its diplomatic toes.

Ecuador’s London embassy has been a refuge for Assange for nearly six years. He fears extradition to the United States and a life sentence if he steps outside.

His organisation uncovered sensitive information in the US’s Iraq war campaign which was said to put the superpower’s national security at risk.

The Australian maverick is also under the spotlight for potentially influencing the most recent US general election.

THE Costa del Sol is at risk of having its very own drug cartel as the region’s narco-gangs grow bolder, according to a police union.

Last month saw a swathe of serious incidents at the hands of narcos.

A police sting seized 8.7 tonnes of cocaine hidden in a container ship arriving in Cadiz from Colombia last month. It was the largest seizure on record.

The mega drug bust meant Police grabbed more cocaine in the strait of Gibraltar by the end of April this year than in the whole of 2017. The sum of the white stuff caught this year weighed 11.8 tonnes.

And police estimate only 20 per cent of drugs which enter Spain actually get stopped.

A nine-year-old boy was killed when a boat linked to drug smuggling collided with the vessel he and his father were on last Monday.

“The surge in violence by drug traffickers is increasing. There are more and more attacks,” according Cadiz Guardia Civil union official, Juan Encinas.

A top trafficker recently escaped from police custody when fellow gang members stormed a hospital in la Linea de la Concepcion where he was being monitored.

Algeciras locals protested the worsening drug gang violence in the main square last week after officers were beaten with broken bottles as they left a restaurant.

The national government is responding, but unions claims the police reinforcements being sent are not enough.

Unions are demanding an extra 300 officers and tougher penalties for youths involved in the drugs trade.

Cadiz’s 31.25 per cent youth unemployment rate is making its young people easy pickings for gang leaders, Juan Fernandez, the Guardia Civil’s national union (AUGC) spokesperson said.

“It is seen less of a crime and more as a way of life,” Fernandez added

He thinks a cartel - formed by a merger between rival gangs and which has the power to penetrate institutions - is not far off.

But the claim was strongly rejected by Spain’s Interior minister Juan ignacio Zoido.


In another ...hsopital jumped

There is a threat of the 30 gangs megring

Cadiz is the largest drugs entry point in the whole of Europe. A total of 40 per of all narcotics entering Spain pass through the ancient port.

SPANISH authorities are cracking down on tax cheats who are registered in Gibraltar but live on the Costa del Sol, rescuing €20 million for the country’s coffers.

Tax agencies have slammed 160 duty dodgers in recent operations, reclaiming an average of €125,000 each in unpaid duties.

The free riding foreigners were said to be living in luxurious residences on the Costa del Sol but were registered on The Rock to avoid paying income and capital gains tax.

And some had not even paid road tax for their flashy sports cars.

Their wealth is concealed by a complex web of offshore societies in Gibraltar. The slippery manoeuvres meant the tax evaders avoided punishment - until 2013 - when Spanish authorities began to step up their game.

Some of the most extreme evaders are now being prosecuted in courts in Malaga and Cadiz, according to a report from Andalucia's tax agency, the body behind the recent operations.

The British fiscal paradise is said to rob Spain of €1 billion per year in tax revenues.

FOOTAGE has captured festival-goers mistreating a bull as it appeared to suffer a seizure during a festival in Eastern Spain.

The half-a-tonne animal grazed its horns along the tarmac as it struggled to find its feet during the traditional "bou al carrer" bull run in Villa Real, Valencia.

The bull was running along the designated path when it fell to its knees and ground to a halt.

After the crowd whistled at the animal, two men began tugging at its tail to try and get the creature to carry on running.

But it was clear the creature was no longer able to run.

The black bull was suffering from some sort of damage to its central nervous system, according to Jose Enrique Zaldívar, the president of AVATMA, an association of vets against bullfighting.

“Even those spectacles that don’t involve blood such as bous al carrer also bring intense suffering for the animals,” he added.

News comes as demonstrators gear up to protest cruelty to bulls later this month at Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square.

A man struck in the head for wearing Spanish flag-coloured trouser braces died of severe brain trauma, an autopsy confirmed.

Victor Lainez, from Zaragoza, had no way of defending himself from the brutal attack which caused his heart and lungs to shut down.

Rodrigo Lanza, 55, was jailed for the politically-driven “hate crime” after setting on Lainez in a Zaragoza nightlife area late last year.  

The suspect is said to harbour extreme views against the Spanish state.

David Arranz, a witness, admitted in court to telling Lanza the victim was an extreme nationalist.

He reportedly regrets passing on the information because it sparked the confrontation which saw Lanza pounce on Lainez and pummel him several times, the court heard.

The punches were powerful enough to fracture the victims nose and cheekbones. The autopsy confirmed the fatal injuries were not caused by the impact when Lainez fell to the ground.

BRIDE Meghan Markle has left her hotel wearing a white veil and tiara and husband-to-be Harry has entered the Windsor chapel alongside brother William.

The prince appeared relaxed and happy as he chatted to his brother while passing cheering crowds on the way to the church.

Both prices are draped in their Blues and Royals Army uniforms after the Queen gave them the royal nod.

Just under a million people a watching the wedding from a live stream on YouTube.

A parade of famous guests include the Beckhams and actor Tom Hardy.

A YOUNG sporty man has had his arms and legs amputated after medics mistook his meningitis for the flu.

Davide Morana, 24 and from Italy, was living in Murcia when he went to local accident and emergency clinic suffering from a fever.

He gave blood and urine samples but was sent home after nothing showed up in the tests.

At home his symptoms worsened.

“I was feeling very weak. I felt pain in my feet, they felt as if they were frozen, and when I took off my socks I saw how my feet were covered with brown marks like the ones on my face, but a bit bigger,” Morana said.

He returned to the hospital where doctors finally diagnosed him with meningitis.

After two days the infection had spread further and left him fighting for his life as his organs began to shut down.

Medics induced the active Italian in a coma. He woke up after a week and found surgeons had been forced to amputate his arms and legs to save him.

The 24-year-old is now running a crowdfunding campaign to raise the €100,222 he needs to fund new limbs and regain a sense of independence.

Prior to the shock illness Morana was very active and loved swimming, running and beach life.

But the young man is said to be full of beans and even joked about his “stump” just hours after the operation, according to his online posts.

Morana has now been released from hospital and is eager to enjoy life again.

He appeared on Murcia television on Thursday to talk about his ordeal and said he could never have imagined the support he is getting.

Access his donation page here.

Page 1 of 2

Poll of the Week

Following reports that a Spanish airport is infested with cockroaches, do you think the country's airports are unhygienic?

New online edition graphic