Pubdate: August 15, 1999
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: Guardian Media Group plc. 1999
Author: Tony Thompson, Crime Correspondent


British gangsters are turning over more than pounds 90 million a year
supplying Ibiza's club drug market, The Observer can reveal.

With 450,000 British tourists visiting the island each year, the market for
Ecstasy - the most popular drug in the dozens of all-night rave clubs - is
alone worth more than pounds40m. When sales of cocaine, amphetamines,
cannabis and LSD are added to the equation, the figure more than doubles.

Characters such as the Professor and Big M supply and distribute the drugs
alongside better known names including the Adams family, the notorious
north London criminal clan. The gangsters are virtually a law unto
themselves and local police admit they can do little to stop the booming trade.

At street level, the dealers are switched regularly to keep one step ahead
of the authorities. They are recruited in England, usually from outside
magistrates" courts, and offered a plane ticket and two weeks in the sun,
plus wages. Many who accept find the work so lucrative they become regulars.

"I don't bother trying to sell stuff over here any more - too many Old Bill
around," says Darren, a dealer from Basildon. "Nobody searches you when
you're leaving the country, so once a month I pack a thousand tabs of E
into a suitcase and go off to Ibiza for the weekend. The money I earn from
that is more than enough to keep me going.

"The Spanish police class Ecstasy as a soft drug, on the same level as
dope, so as long as you don't have too many on you, you don't even have to
worry about being caught. Especially in the high season, there are so many
people around the police are reluctant to do anything. They don't want a
riot on their hands."

The availability and range of drugs on offer in Ibiza is legendary. A huge
proportion of young clubbers seek out dealers almost as soon as they
arrive. Ralph, a clubber from Birmingham, first went to Ibiza in 1991 for
two weeks of non-stop partying. "We didn't take any drugs with us - we
didn't have to. You could get anything you wanted out there and it was
cheaper and superior in quality to anything you could get here. I've been
back every year since and it's the same."

A spokesman for the Civil Guard, the local police force, told The Observer
that there was increasing concern about the availability of drugs in clubs
on the island. "We have regular operations mounted against the clubs and
the situation is better now than it was, but so much of the population
changes so regularly that it is difficult to clamp down effectively," he
said. One dealer arrested last week was found to have been arrested for
drug dealing in Ibiza clubs six times in the past three months.

Only a small proportion of the drugs sold on the island are smuggled from
Britain. The vast majority of Ecstasy tablets are bought in Holland - where
they can be obtained far more cheaply - and driven across Europe, where the
lack of border controls means the chance of being caught is negligible.

The trade is controlled by villains who base themselves on the Spanish
mainland or in Amsterdam, where there is even less risk of being
apprehended. Pat Adams, the eldest of the Adams brothers, recently fled to
Spain to escape the attention of MI5. He is now believed to be overseeing
the family business, including its club drug interests. Another notorious
figure on the mainland believed to have links in the Canaries and Balearics
is Mark Murray, the man in charge of dealing at the club where the pill
that killed Leah Betts was bought.

The success of British villains and the changing face of the club drug
market has also inspired other criminal groups to seek a foothold on the
island. Two years ago, Giovannello Greco was arrested in Ibiza. Greco,
sentenced to 15 years in the early 1980s for Mafia association and murder,
had been on the run for 16 years and was believed to be smuggling large
quantities of high-quality cocaine.

In April, the British Vice-Consul in Ibiza, Michael Birkett, resigned
because he was tired of cleaning up the mess left by UK tourists. Health
authorities on the island recently warned that they were unable to cope
with the number of young British people being admitted to hospital
suffering from drug overdoses. 

- ---
MAP posted-by: Thunder