Pubdate: Thu, 04 Oct 2001
Page: 6
Source: Guardian Weekly, The (UK)
Copyright: Guardian Publications 2001
Author: Giles Tremlett
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


MADRID, Spain -- Spain has called in Colombian police officers to help curb 
an outbreak of violence in Madrid after seven people were killed in eight 
days in street shoot-outs and revenge attacks among international drug 

The Colombian police, hardened by years of war between cocaine cartels in 
their country, were drafted in after the latest gun battle, which saw three 
people killed and one injured last week.

All the victims were young Colombian men. One of them, a 25-year-old from 
the cocaine capital of Medellin, had been in Spain for only two weeks.

Police said they believed the battle was between two gangs of Colombians 
who were fighting for control of a share of the drug trade in Madrid.

The two groups had met for talks in a telephone bureau when they started 
arguing and threatening each other. "They were running down either side of 
the street, taking shots at one another across the traffic," said a 
neighbour who saw one of the victims gunned down. "It sounded like the wild 
west," said another.

The incident occurred only a week after another three Colombians were 
killed in a Madrid apartment. The victims had all been shot once in the 
head, in what appeared to have been a cold-blooded, professional execution.

Seven other Colombians have been murdered so far this year in the Spanish 
capital, leading to concern that the wars fought so ruthlessly in Medellin, 
Bogota, and Cali have now come to Madrid. Other cities, such as Barcelona, 
have also had an increase in the number of Colombians murdered.

"The Colombian criminals attach little value to life, and bring their 
attitudes with them," Juan Cotino, Spain's director general of police, 
said. "They have money, false documents and extremely cold blood," a police 
source added.

The killings have led to calls for stricter controls on Colombians entering 
Spain. They coincide with a sharp rise in the number of legal Colombian 
immigrants who have come to Spain looking for work. There are an estimated 
60,000 Colombians here.

Spain has long been seen as the main entry point for cocaine in Europe. All 
the other countries in Europe's Schengen zone - states that abolished 
border controls - require Colombians to obtain visas. But Spain has refused 
to apply similar measures. However, Spanish officials expect visa 
restrictions to be introduced soon.
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