Friday, 29 February 2008

Credit crunch in the wake of the US subprime mortgage market crisis signals the end of the Property Bonanza

The appraisers' association Sociedad de Tasación said Wednesday that while the cost of a new home rose on average by 5.1 percent last year in Spain's provincial capitals, the increase in the last quarter with respect to the first six months of the year was only 1.1 percent.The biggest increases took place in Valencia, Almería and Barcelona where prices rose by over 8 percent. Prices fell in Segovia and Vitoria by 2.7 and 2.5 percent respectively. The average price per square meter of a new home last year stood at EUR 2,905.The most expensive city for new housing in Spain last year was Barcelona, where the average price per square meter stood at EUR 4,543. San Sebastián leapfrogged Madrid as the second dearest city in Spain.
One of the main reasons for the slowdown last year was higher borrowing costs. The European Central Bank has raised interest rates eight times from historically low levels since the end of 2005.The credit crunch since the summer of last year in the wake of the US subprime mortgage market crisis also caused banks to tighten lending conditions, further dampening demand for housing.
"If this does not resolve itself and the liquidity crisis persists, demand for housing could fall, which would have an impact on prices," the chairman of the Sociedad de Tasación, José Luis Estevas-Guilmain said.Estevas-Guilmain said a fall in nominal prices this year is unlikely, but added price increases below the rate of inflation could take place if credit restrictions remain in place.Commenting on the Sociedad de Tasación figures, Housing Minister Carme Chacón said house price inflation seems to be stabilising at round 5 percent, and expects this trend to continue until it comes in line with consumer price inflation. According to the latest available figures, consumer prices in November of last year were up 4.1 percent.The Housing Ministry was set up by the current Socialist government, which took power in April 2004, as a means of addressing the socio-economic problems thrown up by the property boom. Chacón noted that house prices then were rising at an annual rate of around 17 to 18 percent.Since then, the administration has put emphasis on government-sponsored housing whose prices are well below those of the free market. It has also been promoting the rental market in a country where over 80 percent of households own their own home, the highest rate in Europe.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

El Ejido Owners homeless after discovering beach-front apartments are rental apartments



Owners homeless after discovering beach-front apartments are rental apartments. Judges in Almería have opened a fraud investigation into the former president of a top Spanish football club.Gerardo Martínez Retamero, who was in charge of Sevilla-based club Real Betis between 1983-89, is alleged to have sold apartments in a beach-front complex in El Ejido as homes even though they were registered as rental apartments.This has left the owners in limbo as under Spanish law they can only live in their homes for one month a year. For the remaining 11 months, the property has to be available on short term lets to holidaymakers.“Nobody knew that they were tourist apartments until now. The authorities have told us that we are obliged to rent out the apartments for 11 months out of 12,” apartment owner Miguel Sillas said.The owners have also been hit with a huge tax bill. Under Spanish law, purchasers have to pay 7 per cent tax on residential property. However, owners of tourist apartments have to give 16 per cent of the purchase price to the taxman.
Retamero, who unsuccessfully stood for election as head of Spain’s FA in 2004, has denied any wrongdoing, stating he is “a victim of subtle blackmail” by the owners of the apartments in the Lagos de Almerimar complex.“From day one, they were sold as tourist apartments. This was stated in the private contracts that were signed by the buyers.”

Alleged web of corruption at Marbella town hall and the Xerez Club Deportivo



Secret deal comes to light that saw Roca buy into club. judge investigating the alleged web of corruption at Marbella town hall has turned his attentions towards a top Andalucía football club.Óscar Perez is looking into the secretive 2002 purchase of second division Xerez Club Deportivo by Juan Antonio Roca – the former chauffeur turned urban planning chief at the centre of the Malaya investigation.According to reports, Roca used bribes he had received in his role at the council of the resort town to buy 50 per cent of the Jerez-based club.The magistrate has implicated in the investigation José María Gil Silgado – the president of the club during Roca’s two-year ownership – and lawyers who mediated in the clandestine deal that only came to light this week.Amassing a multi-million-euro fortune in only a few years, Roca asked for money in exchange for building permits in a web of corruption that extended to former Marbella mayors, councillors, the construction and bullfighting industries and even the local police force. This is not the first corruption link between Marbella and football. Roca’s ex-boss was the deceased Jesús Gil y Gil. Not only was he mayor of the town (1991-2002) but also owner of top-flight club Atletico Madrid. In 2002, Gil was sentenced to six months behind bars and banned from holding public office for 28 years after he channeled 75 million euros of council funds into the football club.Gil died of a brain hemorrhage in 2004.

Airplane, loaded with 600 kilos of hashish had to make an emergency lin rice fields close to the Isla Menor in Sevilla



Members of the National Police and Guardia Civil from Sevilla have caught some drug runners when their light airplane, loaded with 600 kilos of hashish had to make an emergency landing in rice fields close to the Isla Menor in Sevilla. The two crew were arrested despite the fact that when the authorities arrived on the scene the plane had no one inside. Witnesses said the crew tried to escape on foot, but they were later found following a helicopter search and arrested. The 600 kilos of drug was packed into 20 bails.

Safe house for illegal immigrants who came into Spain on false documentation.


Moroccan woman who was being held against her will in a house in Estepona was rescued by police on Wednesday, after she managed to contact a friend in Ciudad Real through an Internet web site. She said she was being held by a man and a woman, and had been there for some days.Police in Ciudad Real passed the information onto Estepona, and the 23 year old was found in a property near the marina on Monday, two days after the kidnap was reported to police in Ciudad Real.Four arrests were made – the two who were holding the woman, and two Moroccan immigrants who were found to be in the country illegally. Europa Press said the property was used as a safe house for illegal immigrants who came into Spain on false documentation.

Spanish tax office confirming that it is joining a growing list of countries investigating citizens with bank accounts, in Liechtenstein

A rapidly expanding international probe into tax evasion centred on Liechtenstein spread to Spain on Tuesday, with the Spanish tax office confirming that it is joining a growing list of countries investigating citizens with bank accounts, companies and foundations in the Alpine principality.The potentially massive case of tax fraud emerged earlier this month when Germany admitted to paying EUR 4.2 million for information on German nationals with accounts at LGT, a private bank owned by Liechtenstein's royal family. Britain, France, Italy, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia and the United States have since launched their own inquiries. Spain on Tuesday became the latest to target its citizens who had allegedly been using LGT to hide money from the tax office."We are analysing information about Spanish citizens included in these lists of bank accounts and deposits in Liechtenstein, which were used, presumably, for tax evasion and fiscal fraud," the Spanish tax office said in a statement.It said that after it has studied the information it will decide whether to launch further investigations or to turn individual cases over to prosecutors to bring criminal charges.

Mari Luz Cortés girl found in Naples could be that of the missing five year old youngster from Huelva


Interpol is reported to be investigating whether a girl found in Naples could be that of the missing five year old youngster from Huelva, Mari Luz Cortés.The Government delegate in Andalucía, Juan José López Garzón, has today said that there was no confirmation of the identity as yet. It seems the investigation started when a Spanish businessman of Italian origin, and resident of Cataluña was alerted by his mother who still lives in Italy, that they had found an indentified girl in Naples who was no older than five and whose origin and identity was unknown. It’s also reported that the child cannot speak Italian and is in a state of shock, only repeating the word ‘mama’. Despite latest reports that the child has an Asiatic appearance, Mari Luz’s father is reported to be planning to leave for Naples.
Mari Luz was last seen when she left her home in the El Torrejón district of Huelva on 13th January to buy a packet of crisps at the local sweets kiosk. Several searches in the Huelva area have proved fruitless and did not result in any clues.
The Mari Luz case has resulted in considerable coverage in the British press looking for links to the Madeleine McCann case, given that Huelva is close to the Portuguese border.Authorities in Italy say the unidentified child found in Naples is not Mari Luz, the five year old girl who has been missing from her home in Huelva for more than six weeks. The child in question is in a care centre in the Italian city, is said to be no older than five, and cannot speak Italian. She was reported to be in a state of shock, only repeating the word, ‘mama’.Authorities there have now received a photograph of Mari Luz and say there is no similarity in the two girls’ appearance.
The investigation began when a Spanish businessman of Italian origin who is resident in Cataluña was told by his mother in Italy that an unidentified girl had been found in Naples. She was said to be either Asiatic in appearance, or of gypsy race, as is Mari Luz. EFE said the news that the child is not Mari Luz came through from sources at the Spanish Embassy in Rome shortly after Mari Luz’s father, Juan José Cortés, had left for Naples to follow up the initial information.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Britons are being scared off buying property

The most spectacular violator of planning laws has been the council in the Costa del Sol town of Marbella. Planning chiefs allegedly took bribes to grant licences to 30,000 houses. In 2006, police arrested 28 people, including the mayor, Marisol Yagüe, and the former head of planning, Juan Antonio RocaNicolás - the alleged mastermind of the fraud. Police investigating allegations of corruption and fraud seized property and goods worth a total of £1.7bn.Roca, 53, is said to have approved 600 developments during his 15 years in office, taking a 10 per cent 'commission' to ignore planning restrictions and becoming one of Spain's richest men.

Britons are being scared off buying property on Spain's Mediterranean coast, with the number of potential buyers plummeting after a series of corruption and planning scandals and the announcement of plans to demolish thousands of illegally built homes.New figures,by the Costa del Sol Association of Constructors and Promoters, show a dramatic fall in the number of non-Spaniards purchasing villas and apartments in the popular tourist area. Foreign buyers, of whom an estimated 40 per cent are British, spent €540m (£406m) on property in the area in the first 10 months of last year. Over the same period in 2005, the figure was €1.84bn (£1.38bn) - a drop of 70 per cent in two years.Economists cite higher mortgage repayments, oversupply and concerns about the economy as factors. But José Prado, president of the association in Málaga, said: 'The single most significant factor in this horrific decline has been the threat of demolition.'

Monday, 25 February 2008

200 burglaries in the province of Malaga North Africa gang caught

Civil Guard, acting on the results of investigations carried out from Alicante, arrested a score of people accused of being behind 200 burglaries in the province of Malaga. The highly organised gang, mostly from North Africa but including some Spaniards, operated by waiting for the occupants to leave a house before entering and stealing their valuables. Receivers of stolen goods also formed part of the operation.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Trafford Centre España,Trafford Centre for Torremolinos

Peel Holdings, the property and investment giant, is set to take its Trafford Centre shopping mall international with a £500m scheme on the Costa del Sol.
After years of planning and negotiations with the Spanish authorities, Trafford Centre España has been given the green light. The development, being led by Lindsey Ashworth, one of Peel founder John Whittaker's key lieutenants, will take place on a 80-acre site in Torremolinos. With planning permission granted, the next stage for Peel will be to raise the cash for the development - which should not pose too many problems, given the outstanding success of the original Trafford Centre, which attracts more than 30 million visitors a year. Construction should begin early 2009 and will take around two years. Trafford Centre España will follow the original closely - it will offer around one million sq ft of retail, entertainment and leisure space, anchored by department stores and a cinema. It will also feature a similar style of architecture. In recognition of its location on the popular Costa de Sol, the development will also include a five-star hotel and, eventually, some luxury apartments. Mr Ashworth said Trafford Centre España would have `universal' appeal, and would not be purely focused at the large ex-pat community on the Costa del Sol, or to visiting tourists. He explained how the development came about: "John bought the land in the 1980s. The original site was 40 acres. We tried to get the scheme through planning, but had no success. About five years ago, we teamed up with adjoining landowners, who shared our aspirations.
"While there will obviously be a flavour of the original Trafford Centre, the major difference is, because it's in a warm climate, it can be outward-facing. Bars and restaurants will have terracing and some will be built around a lake."
Mr Ashworth said the site was superbly located, 10 minutes from Malaga and half an hour away from Marbella, where Mr Whittaker has a home.
"Like the original, Trafford Centre España has got excellent connectivity - a new motorway is being built right outside it," said Mr Ashworth.
"It will be aimed at everybody - local people and tourists.
"When we started, the new motorway extension was not even proposed, so time has been very kind to us.
"There's nothing like this in Spain - the nearest thing to what we have here is Xanadu in Madrid, and it's nowhere near as nice.
"There is a huge market out there and people like to shop in a pleasant environment and that is what we will provide."
He said there had been cynicism over whether the Trafford Centre - which celebrates its 10th birthday this autumn - would work.
"We proved people wrong when they said it would fail because it was too near Manchester. We all thought it would do well, but I think it has exceeded all our expectations."
Peel, which owns Liverpool John Lennon Airport, the Manchester Ship Canal and a number of other key property assets in the UK, already owns some property overseas, principally in Bermuda and Barbados. Trafford Centre España is the first large-scale, mixed use international development that Peel has begun.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Spanish society’s feelings of insecurity overall have taken off.

The Spanish press statement about crime in Spain.For one thing, the downtown areas of the big cities are breaking down at a remarkable rate. In the name of multiculturalism and coexistence, entire neighborhoods are becoming black holes of crime, prostitution, drug trafficking, and consumption, as well as mafia-style contracts. It is no longer about petty theft or misdemeanors; we speak about real crime in the middle of the streets, wild assaults to jewelers, gang raids. The law of the jungle reigns; police stations are jammed with complaints pressing charges; officers cannot cope with the load. In addition to the lack of human resources and equipment, there is legal apathy; never before had it been so clear the feeling of a legal revolving door. In Spain, the crime rate is obviously on the rise under the Zapatero Administration. While the ones in charge mess around with conveniently fabricated numbers and statistics, one thing has become increasingly clear. In recent years, Spaniards have started to feel more and more insecure, not only out in the streets, but within their own homes. Facing the passivity of this Administration, Spaniards see a sort of quiet terror settling in which will most likely escalate.


On the other hand, crime has gone out of control in qualitative and quantitative fashion outside downtown areas. It is characterized by violence with no limits; it is no longer about sneaking into houses, and running away with the booty, but instead entering forcibly to torture and murder in order to reap maximum benefits. Some housing developments in Madrid’s surrounding areas already live in fear, and rightly so; the citizens know intuitively that, when facing paramilitary assaults, they lack access to adequate security measures.
The Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) cannot keep up with the task of patrolling extensive rural areas. Given the circumstances, this body’s performance has been better than expected; gangs take advantage of the scarce human resources and equipment available, they rely on preparation, money and lack of scruples. Without the necessary means, the security forces always come out on the losing end. Facing the passivity of this Administration during all the legislative term, there are more crimes every day, and each time they become more violent. The autonomous communities try to lessen with great difficulty this untenable situation. Thus, the government winning in March will undoubtedly have to undertake the necessary reforms.
The next administration must equip the National Police and Guardia Civil with the necessary means and human resources to fight this type of crime. They should spare no effort. In addition, it is urgent to reform the law in order to adapt it to this new reality. We must speed up judicial proceedings, take a tougher stance on the matter of sentencing till the bitter end, or proceed to deport all foreign criminals with expediency; these are necessary measures. Between Alonso and Rubalcaba we have lost four years. Regardless of what new policy is put in place, it will have arrived late. However, if the next Administration puts its nose to the grindstone and makes a real effort, it will not be too late to reverse the situation.

Jesús Gil roller sells for a knocked down price.

The roller was sold for a little over 39,000 € and now becomes the property of the Grupo Franco y Proyectos, which is based in Salzadella. The two other bids presented came from private individuals but were both around 3,000 € below the winning bid. The reserve price was set at 34,650 €.The car has been put up for auction before, twice by the Management Committee which ran the town for a year after the Town Hall’s dissolution in 2006, but both were called off after no bids were presented. And the previous Mayor of Marbella, Marisol Yagüe, announced that it would be put up for sale in February 2005: the Rolls was valued at that time at 250,000 €.The Rolls Royce which was used by the late Mayor of Marbella, Jesús Gil y Gil, an eight cylinder 1992 Silver Spur has a new owner, a construction company from Castellón.

McCanns spokesman regrets the reaction of Juan Cortés

McCanns spokesman regrets the reaction of Juan Cortés and says that the couple only wanted to help"Is shameful that Mari Luz's father presents complaints"It is "surprising and shameful that Mari Luz's father presents complaints about us in a press release". This was the reaction of Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns when he was informed by the 24 Horas that the father of Juan Cortés does not authorise the distribution of the 18 thousand posters with the images of Maddie and the Spanish girl in Spain and Portugal."We regret the confusion. We only wanted to help Mari Luz's family and honestly we thought we had permission from the girl's father to this joint campaign", said Clarence Mitchell. The problem is that the 18 thousand posters were already sent by post, last Thursday to Spain."Our only hope is that the owners of schools, restaurants and other public places are aware of the reaction of Mr. Juan Cortés and do not display the posters", said the spokesman of Kate and Gerry McCann."As I explained to you newspaper last Saturday, we did believe to have the permission of the Cortés family. Few days after the disappearance of Mari Luz, a Kate's friend that speaks Spanish contacted the father of the Spanish girl and told him about the intention of the McCanns in printing a poster of both children. At that time Mari Luz's father said he would appreciate everything that the McCanns could do". Clarence Mitchell will now talk with Kate and Gerry about the situation and also with the volunteers that cooperated in the poster campaign. "How can someone be furious with another person for wanting to help to find the daughter?", said an outraged Mitchell.

A substantial reward is on offer to anyone who can provide reliable information on Amy's whereabouts.

Stepfather David Mahon revealed yesterday he was prepared to pay a "substantial" amount of money to anyone who could help unravel her mystery disappearance.
parents of missing expat Amy Fitzpatrick have offered a cash reward for information on her whereabouts.Franco Rey, spokesman for Mr Mahon and Amy's mum Audrey, said: "A substantial reward is on offer to anyone who can provide reliable information on Amy's whereabouts. Any information received will be treated within the strictest confidence."The amount has not been specified but is thought to run into four figures.Mr Rey said: "David doesn't want to make an amount public as he feels he would be putting a price on Amy but it is a substantial amount." Amy has not been seen since 10pm on New Year's Day when she left a friend's house to walk to her nearby home on Spain's Costa del Sol.Friends of the teenager held a small party on February 7 to mark her 16th birthday.The reward offer comes after Amy's mother and stepfather travelled to Spain's Costa Blanca near Alicante to publicise her disappearance. Mr Mahon (36) has also travelled to Tangiers in northern Morocco to investigate the possibility the teenager was snatched and taken to Africa.
Rewards have also been offered for missing Briton Madeleine McCann and missing Spanish girl Mari Luz Cortes.The family of five-year-old Mari Luz, snatched from her home in Huelva in south-west Spain on January 13, is offering €300,000 for information on her whereabouts.Rewards totalling £2.6m were offered within 10 days of Madeleine McCann's disappearance on May 3 last year from the Algarve holiday resort of Praia da Luz.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

No Nos Olvideis ,Don't forget us Cortés family say they are against a poster campaign launched in Spain by the McCann family


The Cortés family say they are against a poster campaign launched in Spain by the McCann family which shows images of four year old Madeleine alongside their daughter, Mari Luz, who disappeared in Huelva on 13th January, and others pictured with Yeremi Vargas, who was seven when he disappeared from Gran Canaria last year.
Mari Luz’s father, Juan José Cortés, said after a meeting with Manuel Chaves, President of the Junta de Andalucía, this weekend, that, while he is not against collaborating in the search for Madeleine and ‘even helping to draw up a poster of all the missing youngsters,’ the lines of investigation into the disappearance of the two young girls are distinct, and are being carried out in two separate countries. EFE said he is considering taking legal action for using his daughter’s image for the campaign.The news agency noted his comment that the press in Portugal is reporting that the cost of the poster campaign is being met with 4,000 € from each family.Juan José Cortés said after the meeting with Chaves, ‘the President has understood the pain we are suffering, and this type of meeting helps us to at least feel we have the support of the administration.’The Poster campaign linking the disappearance of Madeleine McCann with two missing Spanish children is being launched today.Nearly 18,000 are being sent out across Spain. They will show Madeleine with either Mari Luz Cortes, five, or Yeremi Vargas, seven.They carry the headline No Nos Olvideis - Spanish for "Don't forget us" - and phone numbers where possible sightings can be reported.Mari went missing in Huelva, 120 miles from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz, on January 13. Madeleine vanished from Praia da Luz on last May 3 .Yeremi disappeared on Gran Canaria in March 2007.The Helping To Find Madeleine support group produced the posters.Kate and Gerry McCann's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "We know the Portuguese police looking for Madeleine have examined both cases and our investigators have also looked at them and continue to keep an open mind."In Portugal, the police inquiry into Madeleine's disappearance is about to end, it was claimed yesterday.Justice minister Alberto Costa told a Lisbon hearing: "We're at a stage where we're approaching the conclusion of the process."

Friday, 15 February 2008

Just returned to Limerick from Paddy Doyle incident on the Costa del Sol. Spain

Siezed bullet-proof BMW worth €100,000 belonging to a leading member of one of the country's most dangerous criminal gangs after a high-speed car chase.The driver of the car, who is a close relation to the vehicle's owner, was arrested following the pursuit after he failed to stop the high-performance vehicle at a garda checkpoint in Limerick city.Officers also recovered a bullet-proof vest in the vehicle. The arrested man is likely to face charges in connection with the incident.The top-of-the-range black BMW, which was fitted with bullet-proof glass at a cost of €100,000 to the owner, belongs to a leading member of the Dundon-McCarthy gang. The car owner, who is behind bars, and the arrested driver remain a target for gangs based in the St Mary's Park area of the city.The vehicle remains impounded following the high speed chase on Tuesday.The driver of the vehicle who is in his early 20s is well known to Limerick gardai investigating ongoing criminal and gangland activity in the city.He has just returned to Limerick from Spain where he was in the company of murdered Dublin criminal Paddy Doyle until days before he was shot dead
Doyle was shot dead in the Costa del Sol last week.The Limerick man who returned to the city a fortnight ago has served three years for drug dealing has openly threatened to kill opposing members in Limerick city's ongoing feud. He was released from prison last November.

New biometric tests for the Costa del Sol border surveillance purposes and focusing first on the Mediterranean Sea

Visitors to Europe will face biometric screening and automated security checks under proposals for a shake-up of EU border controls.Under plans to strengthen checks at European borders laid out by the European Commission, international travelers would also have their stay logged and monitored by an electronic system, which could become operational by 2015.The system would alert authorities if the person was recorded as overstaying the length of their visa.Biometric data would be submitted by travelers from outside the EU when applying for a visa, while those not needing a permit would be checked on arrival.Automated border control systems and guards would be able to check visitors' identities using the biometric data, with EU and trusted travelers from outside the EU able to speed up the process using automated gates.The EC is also investigating the possibility of requiring electronic authorization for outside travelers as an alternative to requiring a visa.From 2009, all EU passports will feature a digital fingerprint and photograph and, from 2011 non-EU citizens who apply for a visa will have to give their biometric details.The measures would apply to the 24 nations within the EU's Schengen zone for passport-free travel. All EU states except the Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom are part of the border-free area, to which non-EU members Norway and Iceland also belong. The United Kingdom is believed to be studying whether to opt into the arrangements.The EC is also looking at creating a European Border Surveillance System with the aim of preventing unauthorized border crossings, reducing the number of illegal immigrants dying at sea and reducing cross-border crime within the EU.The commission says the system would use "state-of-the-art technology" for border surveillance purposes and focus first on the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands and the Black Sea before being widened to the "whole maritime domain" of the EU.Data gathered for the system would be protected by security regulations and would be kept for no longer than five years.

Voluntary tax made the payments in the municipal offices

The Partido Popular have demanded that the Junta de Andalucía remove responsibility for town planning away from the Socialist controlled local council in the village of La Viñuela in Málaga province.It follows reports that hundreds of owners of illegally built properties in the municipality have been asked to pay a ‘voluntary tax’ of upto 12,000 € to make their properties legal and that their licences to build have been revoked and their homes face demolition.
The PP spokesman in the village, Francisco González, said that those affected, mostly foreign residents, built their homes with the licence granted by the Town Hall, but are now being told that such licences are no longer valid on judicial order after appeals placed by the Junta de Andalucía.González says that asking for money as the Town Hall has done is not part of any recognised judicial procedure and for this reason he has called on the Junta to withdraw town planning responsibilities from Juan Millán, who he considers is responsible for all this. The PP is also demanding that the regional government regularise the homes concerned.The Socialist Mayor of La Vinuela, Juan Millán, has meanwhile denied that he ever required a tax to be paid to regularise the homes and has blamed a third party for ‘possible fraud’ in the matter. However some owners claim that they have already made the payment in municipal offices.The Junta has meanwhile said it will open an investigation into the whole affair, which they have described as ‘unheard of’. Sources at the Junta say they want to see if the tax allegations are correct or not.


Our mission

SOHA is a newly formed group of local residents whose mission is:
the protection of the rights of Axarquia residents in accordance with article 8 or the European Convention on Human Rights
to help residents protect their homes with legal help and direct action
to actively campaign for the establishment of an amnesty for honest home-owners in Axarquia.
Save Our Homes in Axarquia was formed in January 2008. We have no ambition other than to save our homes. We have no alliances with any external group or political party.
We aim to achieve our objectives through peaceful means, through discussion and engagement at the highest levels possible. We wish to encourage our political leaders to see that the demolition of homes causes widespread negative effects not only to homeowners but the population as a whole. Depressed economic activity, fewer europeans arriving, empty houses and higher unemployment. No good can come of this other than an agreement to do things right in the future by all parties.
Should it become necessary we will engage legal services to fight our case even up to the European Court of Human Rights. This takes a lot of money and one of our most pressing objectives is the raising of funds, it is more cost effective if we all pull together than to pay for it individually.
Ultimately, though we hope it will not, we will be prepared to take to the streets to plead our case and even stand together as one between the buldozers and our homes. Stand with us.

Join SOHA now.

Helicopter is being used to fly over Málaga province to search for illegally built properties

Environment Prosecutor for the Costa del Sol has announced that a helicopter is being used to fly over Málaga province to search for illegally built properties. Members of the SEPRONA environment department of the Guardia Civil will man the flights and take photographic and video evidence. The first flight took place on Wednesday, and Diario Sur today shows the craft over the La Viñuela area. SEPRONA is particularly concerned about illegal constructions in forestry areas because of the risk of fire they represent.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Real estate deals in the most dynamic zones

The Spanish Tax Authority, Hacienda, and the Spanish Social Security System are joining forces in a fight against Tax fraud. New computer links will interchange information to detect any possible frauds, and particular attention is to be made on real estate deals, even more so in areas of the country described as ‘the most dynamic zones’.News of the crackdown was given by the General Director of Agencia Tributaria, Luis Pedroche. The Secretary of State for Tax and Budgets, Carlos Ocaña, underlined that it was the Government’s design to crack down on fraud more each year, acting both in areas of prevention and prosecution.New computer connections between the tax and social security services are to be used, with particular attention being made on real estate deals

Monday, 11 February 2008

Mari Luz Cortes witnesses saw a girl who answers her description being put into a van

A large demonstration took place in Seville on Monday to call for the safe return of Mari Luz, the five year old gypsy girl who has been missing from her home in Huelva for more than four weeks. It was headed by her parents, Juan José Cortés and Irene Suárez, and they have now contracted the services of a private detective agency to help them find their daughter.Mari Luz was last seen when she left her home in the El Torrejón district of the city on 13th January to buy a packet of crisps at the local sweets kiosk. A report from Huelva Información on Monday speaks of two witnesses who say they saw her that afternoon. One, they say, who was driving by at the time, saw a girl who answers her description being put into a van near the square where she lives, where two people were waiting inside the vehicle. The paper said Mari Luz’s parents have called on any father who was in the area and could have been seen having a minor disagreement with his own daughter to come forward so that the statement from the witness can be discounted from police enquiries. The van in question was white, according to reports.

Marbella residents bus pass

Marbella residents will soon have unlimited use of the town’s nine bus routes for only 36 euros a month once the new transport company’s pass comes into force. This means that getting around the town on several buses will cost only 1.1 6 euros a day, as opposed to the 1.15 euros it currently costs for just one bus journey.

Costa del Couscous

Costa del Cous Cous

Three friends, all of whom have moved to Essaouira in the past year, are among tens of thousands of European citizens now moving to what is becoming the hottest retirement destination in the world: the "Costa del Couscous".Moroccan port town of Essaouira, 160km west of Marrakesh.
"Once everyone spoke about the Cote d'Azur, then the Costa del Sol, now it is Morocco," said Anne Locquet, an estate agent in Essaouira. "They are pouring in. More and more every day."

Although British, Italian and Spanish immigrants are among the wave of newcomers, the vast majority are French. Attracted by the sun, cheap property and tax breaks, their numbers have rocketed in the past three years. There are cheap flights, and French is widely spoken in the former colony that retains strong cultural links - couscous was recently voted the most popular single dish in France.
Felix, a former fighter pilot who recently arrived in the city of Fez, said that he was leaving behind a "sad and expensive" France.
In Marrakesh, local authorities say that they have issued 8000 residence permits to French nationals, many retired.
The Institut Francais, the French Government's cultural centre in the city, is now tailoring parts of its programme to suit elderly citizens. In Meknes, a small industrial city near Fez, in the north of Morocco, 1000 foreigners - most of them from France - have now registered with the town hall. As only a fraction register, the total number of retired French in Morocco is not known, but some estimates put it as high as 50,000.
"It has exploded exponentially," said Laurent Paul Alteresco, director of Repimmo.com, an estate agency that offers retirement properties in Morocco. "We get 30,000 [website] visitors and 400 serious inquiries a week."
Monique Benotman, a former teacher from Jura has been in Essaouira for 18 months. She said she wanted "some sun and to do some good" and now teaches French to poor children in the streets around her flat in the old part of the city.
Evelyne Feraud, from Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, has launched a jewellery workshop, targeting her compatriots who visit Essaouira as tourists. "The problem in France is tax and all the regulation. It is much easier here. Provence is beautiful but expensive. If I could have all I have here back home, I would have stayed there - but I can't."

Terrorist threat in Southern Spain (update)

Spain’s Pakistani community has grown from a few thousand residents a decade ago to about 70,000 today, as immigrants have been drawn to Spain by easy entry and to Barcelona’s Raval district by cheap rents. They have injected new life into the decrepit neighborhood, opening small businesses, but law enforcement officials say some have engaged in petty crimes like money laundering and credit card fraud.Pakistanis have also sent home millions of dollars through the informal system of money transfers, some of it financing extremist groups there, the officials add.
As the terrorism suspects congregated in the largely Pakistani neighborhood here over the past few months, they were joined by a young man who called himself Asim. He had come from the Pakistani borderlands where the leadership of Al Qaeda is said to have regrouped.
The suspects, he later told Spanish investigators, envisioned a wave of spectacular attacks: Coordinated suicide bombings would start in this city’s vast subway system and then sweep through Portugal, Germany, France and Britain if certain demands were not met.
Asim had been sent to Spain to be a suicide bomber, but he also was an informant for French intelligence working in the no man’s land of Waziristan in Pakistan. After he got word to his handlers of an impending attack, Spain’s military police swooped into the neighborhood of Raval in the early hours of Jan. 19 and arrested 14 men. Now the officials unraveling the case say it demonstrates the growing threat of terrorist activities migrating to Continental Europe from Pakistan.
The largely Pakistani cell formed quickly in Barcelona with support, and perhaps direction, from the tribal areas of Pakistan, the authorities said. According to the arrest warrant in the case, three suicide bombing suspects arrived in Spain within the last four months and the bomb making suspect had recently spent five months in Pakistan.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Mari Luz Cortesa :Police have detained a man who attempted to take a seven year old close to Mari Luz family home.



Spanish press are announcing that a man has been detained in El Torrejón close to the disappearance of Mari Luz on suspicion of attempting to take a young girl from the street. The seven year old was leaving her grandmother house when the attempt was made an aunt rushed to help the child. The police were called and a man was detained.large crowds have gathered outside the National police station

International drug smuggling network operating in Palma, Madrid and Barcelona.

Guardia Civil’s heavily armed organised crime unit yesterday mounted a major anti-drugs operation in Palma.
A series of raids were mounted simultaneously with a number of drugs swoops carried out across Spain as part of a nationwide operation.
armed officers wearing ski masks and with air support from a Guardia Civil helicopter stormed at least two properties in the Son Gotleu neighbourhood of the capital.
The operation was still ongoing but at least 13 people had been arrested.
Police sources also confirmed that over eight kilos of various drugs have been seized over the past two weeks since the operation was first given the all clear by police chiefs.
It was also revealed last night that further arrests may be made today.
Police are not ruling out another wave of raids on suspect properties in Palma.
The Guardia Civil had mounted a series of house raids in Palma and made a number of arrests as part of a simultaneous operation carried out in various parts of the country. international drug smuggling network operating in Palma, Madrid and Barcelona.
Guardia Civil chiefs debriefed the media on the exact results of Operation Lagos which has resulted in the break up of an international gang smuggling cocaine into Palma and other parts of Spain from Holland.
A total of 14 people have been arrested, one is being treated in hospital after he tried to escape by leaping from a second floor balcony in Palma, and nearly ten kilos of cocaine seized.
Guardia chiefs said yesterday that, since the gang began operating in Spain, it has smuggled between 50 and 60 kilos of cocaine in to the country.
The operation began in 2006 when the Guardia Civil caught a couple of Nigerians trying to smuggle cocaine into Barcelona from Casablanca. The subsequent investigation led police to Palma where the alleged brains behind the smuggling operation was based and since then, the organised crime squad has been monitoring the activities of a number of mules used to smuggle the drugs. Apparently, each would smuggle around a kilo of cocaine out of the Republic of Guinea, to Casablanca and then onto Amsterdam before the final stretch of the journey to Palma via Madrid and Barcelona.
The Guardia Civil explained yesterday that the tickets for the smuggling drug mules were booked in Spain and paid via international money transfer offices.
The mules were also given basic travel allowance of 500 euros, the minimum figure certain countries demand a tourist is carrying in order to enter the country.
The gang also covered hotel bills in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Amsterdam and also provided guarantees of financial aid should any of the smugglers get arrested and that funds would be paid to partners and family should the suspect end up in prison.
The Madrid and Barcelona operations were responsible for “retrieving” the drugs which were swallowed and smuggled inside the body as well as hiring new mules for future drug runs from West Africa to Palma.
The gang was described as being extremely well organised.
Key members used a special code the few times they used the telephone, for example.
The operation was yesterday hailed as a major success for Palma’s Guardia Civil organised crime unit which was only set up at the end of last year and for the war against drugs and organised crime in Spain.

Crumlin in the sun

Dublin criminals are now so frequently spotted in the Alicante city of Torrevieja where it is understood that much of the illegally sourced property investment in Spain has been directed that ordinary Dublin holidaymakers have dubbed it ‘Crumlin in the sun’.Dublin criminals moved substantial amounts of their wealth overseas, with hundreds of millions of euro of ill-gotten gains invested in the burgeoning property market in Alicante.
Spain is regarded by criminals and law enforcement agencies as the premier continental European base for organising drugs shipments via South America and eastern Europe and Asia.
Why criminals should feel freer there to conduct their illicit affairs than they do in their native countries has much to do with the perception that Spanish police are uninterested in tackling non-Spanish criminals.
Whether justified or not, Spain has a bad reputation among law enforcement agencies across Europe for failing to crack down adequately on the ease with which drug smugglers usinge the jurisdiction for doing deals.Spain’s position as a staging post for drugs from places such as Colombia and Bolivia is a symptom of its colonial past and the language ties between southern Spain and South America.
Spain’s criminal organisations also benefit from country’s massive 4,900 kilometres of coastline, from which drugs shipments can be received from South America, via Morocco or Algeria to the south, and launched to northern Europe, with little fear of detection by police or coastguard patrol boats.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Amy Fitzpatrick mother spent the eve of her daughter's 16th birthday yesterday being interviewed by police over an alleged assault.


Local newspapers reported yesterday that Mrs Fitzpatrick refused to turn the music down -- and allegedly struck out following a row, after telling the neighbour the song she was listening to was one of daughter Amy's favourites.
Guardia Civil called Audrey Fitzpatrick (36) in for questioning after a neighbour claimed she had been attacked for complaining about loud music coming from the Costa del Sol home .
The incident is said to have happened last Friday afternoon. Mrs Fitzpatrick was asked to attend a police station in Mijas yesterday as she made preparations to mark her daughter's 16th birthday.
A Spanish police spokesman said: "A neighbour has reported Amy's mother to police. After police have interviewed her, a report will be passed to a judge who will decide what course of action to take.
"I have not been told the nature of the complaint that has been made."
Family spokesman Franco Rey said: "Audrey has been to the police station to answer the neighbour's complaint. She made an official statement to them. There's no other comment we'll be making at this time."
Mrs Fitzpatrick has come under increasing stress since her daughter went missing on New Year's Day.
She was last seen leaving friend Ashley Rubio Rose's home near her own in the popular expat resort of Riviera del Sol around 10pm. Last night Mr Rey said that although Amy's older brother Dean (17) had organised tonight's party, their mother was unlikely to go.
"She's very upset because her only daughter will be turning 16 and she isn't here. She had been thinking of having a party for her and at the moment she is very, very, very upset."
Mrs Fitzpatrick recently travelled to the Costa Blanca on Spain's east coast to publicise her daughter's disappearance. She has also travelled to the British colony of Gibraltar with Amy's stepdad to put up pictures of Amy.
Earlier this week, Dave Mahon returned from a trip to the Moroccan port of Tangiers to hand out posters with Amy's picture on them.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Mari Luz Cortes

Juan José Cortés spoke of his anger at the lack of progress which has been made, and confirmed that the family will be contracting the services of a private detective agency to help in the investigation. He said two have contacted him, and a third, outside Spain, is ‘interested in the case.’ The family has opened a bank account in the BBVA bank for any donations.
He also mentioned new police information that his daughter crossed the road after the leaving the kiosk where she had gone to buy a bag of crisps, and said she would not have done so alone, as she knew it was totally forbidden.
In Andalucía, hundreds supported a protest outside Málaga City Hall on Tuesday morning, with others also taking place in Granada and Cádiz. The demonstration in Huelva set off from Mari Luz’s home in El Torrejón, and three doves were released into the air when the protestors arrived at City Hall.

The search for Mari Luz meanwhile goes on, and on Tuesday, apart from Huelva itself, extended to Gibraleón and Trigueros. They will move later to the woods of Moguer and Palos de la Frontera if nothing is found, and as far as Mazagón, El Mundo said.

Juan José Cortés, the father of the missing five year old from Huelva, Mari Luz, who vanished on January 13, said yesterday that he is optimistic for a quick advance in the investigation and that the hopes of finding her well were ever greater.
His comments to the press came after a meeting at the Provincial Police Station in Huelva with those carrying out the investigation.
Juan José Cortés said that the hopes of finding the child well were greater than everThe father, while admitting that the clues did not currently indicate any person in particular, they did go towards ‘completing the puzzle’.
‘There was an ever greater chance that she is still alive’, he said, and called for anyone who knew anything to come forward. He said that anyone who supplied information which led to the return of his daughter would be well rewarded.
Meanwhile a large new search is being organised over this weekend using quad bikes and horses across the local marshes. Juan José encouraged the public to take part.

Amy Fitzpatrick had apparently been frequently allowed to drive a family friend's Ford Fiesta

police in Spain are searching for a family friend's Ford Fiesta, which disappeared at the same time as the teenager.
Amy had apparently been frequently allowed to drive the car.The family and friends of Amy Fitzpatrick are distributing photographs in Morocco today as part of their ongoing search for the missing Irish teenager.
The 15-year-old Dubliner hasn't been seen since disappearing in the Costa del Sol on New Year's Day
Her family say they are not following any specific lead in Tangiers today, but decided to take their campaign to the Moroccan port as it is close to their home in southern Spain.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

The first of many six times over the alcohol limit

British man is to appear in court in Alicante province after he was found to be driving at six times over the alcohol limit, EFE reported on Tuesday.
Quoting information from the Civil Guard, the news agency names him as C.R.N.K., aged 41, and says he was stopped on the N-332 road in Torrevieja last Saturday evening. Officers pulled him over for driving with the incorrect lights and tested him for alcohol after they realised that he had been drinking.

Patrick Doyle linked in the Spanish media to 100 kilos of coke.


Murdered gangland figure Paddy Doyle was shot dead in Spain after falling foul of an international drugs gang.Investigators are satisfied the shooting on the Costa del Sol was linked to his drugs activities there rather than his role in a deadly feud at home.
Police hunting Doyle's killers yesterday arrested seven men after seizing an €8m cocaine shipment in Estepona
Patrick Doyle, a drug dealer from Dublin,the man who was driving the car he was in when he was shot at is Gary Hutch, also from Ireland. RTE News in Ireland gave the name of a third man who was in the rear passenger seat of their BMW jeep as Freddie Thompson, a criminal from Dublin who is now being sought by police.
Police investigating the murder have meanwhile seized more than 100 kilos of cocaine which was found hidden in a furniture lorry near Estepona. The central government delegate for Andalucía, Juan José López Garzón, told the press on Tuesday that seven people are in custody, six from Britain and the seventh from Ireland. He said one is a juvenile.Police are investigating a possible link between the killing on Monday and the seven people arrested after 100 kg of cocaine were seized.Detectives reckon that Doyle, who has been based mainly in Spain over the past couple of years, probably clashed with other drug traffickers.
Doyle, was regarded as a "heavy" in the criminal underworld.
He was closely linked to the leader of one of the feuding gangs and was believed to have acted as an enforcer for him.
He is believed to have been involved in the murder of Noel Roche, who was shot dead in the front passenger seat of a black Mondeo car by members of the rival faction near the Yacht pub in Clontarf, in November 2005.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Suspected Irish drug dealer was shot in Estepona


Patrick Doyle from Portland Row in Dublin has died in a shooting incident in Estepona today. It happened at 2pm in Calle Mejorana in the Bel Air urbanisation in Cancelada, and National Police are still at the scene. The order to remove the body was granted at 3,20pm, and police found a four wheel drive vehicle at the scene with five gunshots, four in the windscreen and one in the front passenger door.
The victim, aged 25-30 was travelling in the passenger seat according to a witness at the scene who said the four wheel drive was fired at by another car. The driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a lamppost. When the passenger got out of the four wheel drive, he was shot twice in the head.
There have been no arrests in the case as yet. A suspected Irish drug dealer was shot dead Monday near the southern Spanish resort town of Estepona, police said.
The man, aged 25 to 30, was a passenger in a four-wheel-drive vehicle when it was ambushed by at least one gunman in another car that pulled alongside, according to a police detective in Dublin, Ireland.
An estimated four shots were fired into the windshield and one through a side door. When the car stopped and the passenger got out, he was shot at least two times in the head at close range, the officer said.The dead man is believed to be involved in the feuding gangs in the Crumlin / Drimnagh area of Dublin.Irish drug gangs have been blamed for the brutal murder.

Mari Luz Cortés possibly linked to Yeremi Vargas disappeared in the Canaries




The mother of Yeremi Vargas, the seven year old boy who went missing from Gran Canaria when he was playing in the street outside his grandmother’s house in Vecindario last March, says police investigating her son’s disappearance have been in contact with Spanish police investigating the disappearance of Mari Luz.
They are working on the theory that people involved in child trafficking are behind these cases.’
Yeremi was last seen on 10th March 2007, two months before Madeleine disappeared from Praia da Luz on the Portuguese Algarve. Yeremi’s mother is reported to believe that both kidnappings were ordered, and that the children were probably sold on.
Yeremi’s mother believes the families should ‘stick together’ to show a united front and to make the public understand that ‘we have not given up on our children being found.’ Ithaisa Suárez wants to arrange meetings with Kate and Gerry McCann, and also with the parents of Mari Luz Cortés, the five year old girl who went missing in Huelva on 13th January.
In Portugal meanwhile, a search is taking place of a reservoir 40 miles from Praia da Luz for any sign of Madeleine’s body. The Daily Record said the cost is being paid by a lawyer, Marcos Correia, who says an un-named source told him she was, as the paper says, ‘murdered and thrown into a lake last May.’ Jeremy Vargas vanished from his home in Gran Canaria just eight weeks before four-year-old Madeleine went missing in Praia da Luz.Police searching for a missing seven-year-old boy in Spain are linking it with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

National police hunting for the boy have told his parents they are now working closely with police in Portugal.
The link between the cases was revealed as dive teams searched a reservoir for Madeleine's body.
Jeremy's mother Ithaisa Suarez, 24, said: "The specialist police team from Madrid have told me that they have been in contact with the Portuguese police investigating Madeleine. They are working on the theory that people involved in child trafficking are behind these cases."
Jeremy was playing on wasteground behind his home when he disappeared on March 10 last year.
Ithaisa insists both Jeremy and Madeleine, four, were snatched to order and likely sold on by a gang.
Ithaisa wants to meet the parents of missing Mari Luz Cortes from Huelva, Spain, to present a united front in drawing international attention to their plight.
She said: "We need to stick together and make sure people understand we have not given up on our children being found."
Yesterday, divers continued to search a reservoir for Madeleine's body following a tip-off from an underworld source to a lawyer.

The Fitzpatrick family were upset to hear press reports that the Spanish Police had begun to dig on a piece of land


The Fitzpatrick family are upset to hear press reports that the Spanish authorities had begun a series of digs in a stretch of land where the teenager was last seen in the Costa del Sol.
"Stories that they are digging in a field are poppycock, absolute rubbish," .
The investigation by the Guardia Civil is continuing and that Ms Fitzpatrick has received no new information from them. He also renewed the family's appeal for anyone who might have seen Amy in Spain or elsewhere to contact the authorities.
The teenager vanished on the evening of New Year's Day as she walked home from a friend's house.
Despite a high-profile publicity campaign, there have still been no confirmed sightings of Amy.
Investigators are becoming increasingly convinced Amy has disappeared voluntarily, rather than being abducted. The teenager had been off school for more than a year after being bullied and had confided in friends that she was unhappy in Spain and wanted to return to Ireland.
Police are also still searching for a white Ford Fiesta belonging to Richie O'Shea, a friend of the family, who was taken in for questioning. Detectives believe this car, which has the number plate C955 SLK, could be crucial to their investigation.
Amy is reported to have driven the car on several occasions after opening it with a screwdriver.
However, Mr O'Shea (34) has denied that she used the car in the past and insists he reported it missing to a police translator after realising it was gone two days after the teenager had disappeared.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Polaris World partner faces corruption charges

The Sunday edition of El País newspaper has revealed some of the content of the part of the case summary now lifted from secrecy in investigations in Murcia into the Town Halls of Torre Pacheco and Fuente Álamo. It concerns telephone conversations recorded by court order, where the constructor, Facundo Armero, is heard saying to the Mayor of Torre Pacheco, Daniel García, ‘I want the Torre Pacheco zoning plans approved now.’
Armero is one of the 14 suspects who have been questioned by Judge Arantxa Moreno so far in the case. They also include the Partido Popular Mayors of the two towns, Daniel García, and from Fuente Álamo, María Antonio Conesa. The investigation follows a complaint from the prosecutor’s office at the Murcia High Court of Justice into alleged administrative irregularities, with a long list of alleged crimes: misappropriation of funds, influence peddling, bribery, perversion of the justice, revealing secret information, fraud, and activities prohibited to public servants. Municipal planning documents were seized from both local corporations last summer in police swoops on the Town Hall buildings.
Facundo Armero is under suspicion as the main man behind the corruption, and was previously a partner in Polaris World before he sold off his share for 300 million €.
El País said Daniel García worked as a lawyer for Armero’s companies before his election as Mayor of Torre Pacheco.

Stabbing Marbella

A woman who was attacked by her husband in Marbella in the early hours of Sunday, and is said to have suffered around 11 stab wounds, has now been released from Intensive Care at the Costa del Sol Hospital and her life is no longer. Her husband is in the same hospital under police custody after turning the knife on himself, and is understood to be in a serious condition, with a wound to his lung.
It happened shortly before 5am on Calle Alcornoque, in the Elviria area of Marbella, and was reported by the woman’s son. A friend who was with the victim until around half an hour before the attack said the couple were in the process of separating, but that the husband had yet to leave the family home. She told EFE there was no history of domestic abuse.
It’s understood both the husband and the wife and Spanish.

Jose Dominguez Prieto,, the father of Spanish actor Antonio Banderas, died

Jose Dominguez Prieto, the father of Spanish actor Antonio Banderas, died in the southern resort city of Marbella after a long illness, the actor's representatives told Efe on Sunday. He was 87.
Dominguez, who was a police precinct chief, died Saturday at his son's residence in the resort city, where he spent his last days.
He will be cremated Sunday at Marbella's Virgen del Carmen cemetery, the actor's representatives said.

Police raids five brothels and nine homes in the province of Almeria

Authorities raided five brothels and nine homes in the province of Almeria, arresting 13 people suspected of leading the ring.
Police in southern Spain arrested 60 people Thursday in a crackdown on a human trafficking ring that forced an estimated 2,000 Russian women into prostitution, an official said.
Authorities raided five brothels and nine homes in the province of Almeria, arresting 13 people suspected of leading the ring, said Juan Jose Lopez Garzon, the head of the Spanish Interior Ministry office in the Andalusia region, which includes Almeria.
All 13 have been charged with illegal trafficking of people for sexual exploitation, prostitution and offenses against the rights of foreign citizens and workers. Police found 34 Russian women in four of the brothels and arrested them for being in Spain without residency papers.
Investigators believe the women were brought to Spain with fake documentation and kept under strict lockdown in the nightclubs where they were forced to work.
During the raids, police found €21,000 (US$28,350) in cash, nine cars, five computers, gold, passports and plane tickets.
Investigations into the ring began in November 2006, when government authorities were alerted to large transactions with Russian money taking place in foreign currency exchange outlets.
Police estimate the total amount of money sent by the traffickers to Russia to be more than €55,000 (US$74,250). Police continue to search for more Russian victims of the ring in Spain.

Two Nigerian women have been arrested in Spain accused of stealing a child

Spain has cracked a number of groups smuggling Nigerian women. Two Nigerian women have been arrested in Spain accused of stealing a child and forcing his mother into prostitution to pay their ransom. The mother, also Nigerian, claims her son was snatched from her shortly after he was born four years ago. She said the women demanded 45,000 euros (£31,000) for his return and threatened her with "voodoo".
The boy was kept hidden from neighbours in a Madrid flat until police tracked him down and rescued him this week. The kidnap and blackmail came to light when the mother, who has since given up prostitution, went to the police. She said the women had got her into Spain from Nigeria illegally - which was why she owed them money. Despite being the only black child in the block of flats, hardly any of his neighbours had seen him there
After they took her son, she said she worked as a prostitute in different clubs around Spain to pay off the debt. Officers investigating the case confirmed that the woman had had a baby in 2002 and finally tracked down the suspects - identified only as Becky F, aged 27, and Faith N, aged 24. The women were known to live in a flat with an 18-month-old girl and another young Nigerian woman. Officers could not confirm the presence of a young boy until a neighbour reported hearing cries from the flat that differed from the little girl's.
On Tuesday, the surveillance teams got the breakthrough they needed when a boy appeared on the balcony. Police raided the flat and found the boy, his mother's passport and other items used in voodoo rituals which the suspects used "to terrorise the mother".
Police said the boy was healthy, although he showed signs of delayed development and had barely learned to talk. He has not been to school and has not been registered at any official institutions, such as health centres. "Despite being the only black child in the block of flats, hardly any of his neighbours had seen him there or in the local children's playgrounds," the police said. They said his captors had probably kept him hidden, alone, in the flat all day. He has now been taken into the care of social services.
In the past few years, Spanish police have broken up a number of illegal immigration networks involving Nigerian women being brought to Spain to work as prostitutes. In March, six people were arrested in Valencia, accused of running such an enterprise. Voodoo has often been found to be a way of threatening the women, but reports say kidnapping their children is less frequent.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Property Crash "There is not good news for UK investors in Spain,"

Spain is one of the main destinations for Britons looking to move abroad or buy a holiday home as an investment. Sales of tourist property in Málaga Province have fallen to an historic low. Analysts warned that a crash could spread to the wider Spanish economy The total turnover on the sale of residential tourism property in the province fell by 50% over 2007 to 540 million €. It means that in two years the province has gone from the leader of the sector to the last place in Spain. The advance numbers were presented by the Costa del Sol Association of Constructors and Promoters at the FITUR tourism fair in Madrid yesterday, but the definitive numbers will not be known until March when they will be published at the ITB Berlin Tourism Fair.
The numbers mean that the province of Málaga has now been overtaken by all the provinces in Cataluña, the Valencia region, Murcia, the Balearics, Canaries and the rest of the Andalucian coastline. In comparison while sales have fallen 50% in Málaga, in Murcia they increased over the same time by 125%.
Fears of a Spanish property crash have increased, prompting a sell-off in real estate shares and fanning concerns that thousands of Britons will lose money.
The sell-off was triggered by worries of rising bad debts and speculation that one large company had been buying its own properties to keep prices high
The country is over-housed, households are over-indebted and the construction industry continues to churn out houses
On top of that, households now have some of the highest debt levels in the eurozone, much of which is based on variable lending rates leaving consumers open to sudden increases in borrowing costs.

The worry is that should the suspected property bubble burst, and some analysts estimate that house prices are overvalued by 30%, then many other industries such as banking and retail would also suffer.
Spain's government and construction industry figures tried to calm fears on Wednesday, stating that the fundamentals of the property market remained solid.
Economy Minister Pedro Solbes said that the country was not in a "worrying situation".
He argued that the outlook for household earnings, and as a result their debt repayments, was steady because there "are good prospects for employment".
The chairman of Astroc, the Spanish property firm at the heart of the recent market wobbles, has also said that the fears are unfounded.
Analysts are asking how high the building industry can go
There had been reports that Enrique Banuelos, the chairman and majority shareholder of Astroc, had bought properties from the company and rumours that a large shareholder had sold out.
However, Mr Banuelos said that there was no "determining reason" for the sell off that has wiped more than 60% off the value of the company in the past six days.
Analysts warned that while the current fears of a crash may be over amplified, the Spanish property boom that had provided strong returns for the past eight years was probably over.
"The country is over-housed, households are over-indebted and the construction industry continues to churn out houses," said Lombard Street analysts in a note to clients the biggest problem facing the market was over-supply of housing. Industry estimates show that more than 800,000 new homes were built in Spain last year, four times the number in the UK.
"That is not good news for UK investors in Spain,"
"We have had over-investment on a gigantic scale and it has already started a slowdown in house price growth," she explained.
"We will definitely see house price growth stop and falls in nominal prices are likely in Spain over the next 12 to 18 months."
President of the Association, José Prado, told La Opinion de Málaga that there were many factors in play, but without doubt the corruption in Marbella had a great deal to do with it, as it has generated a climate of distrust among purchasers.
‘If even today they are still talking about knocking down homes which obtained their construction licence, have their mortgage, and are registered at the notary, how would anybody dare to buy a house?’, he said. Prado went on to criticise what he called the enormous legal vacuum across the province.
"If even today they are still talking about knocking down homes which obtained their construction licence, have their mortgage, and are registered at the notary, how would anybody dare to buy a house?"
‘Currently there is not a single new PGOU Urban Plan approved anywhere in the province, not even in its initial phase. Even if they were started now they would not be definitive for two or three years, and by that time we would be in crisis because of a lack of designated building land’.
The number of new homes completed across the province has fallen from 41,740 in 2005 to 29,450 in 2007. The fall was most acute in the tourist muncipalities - Nerja (-30%), Vélez (-44%), Torremolinos (-74%), Fuengirola (-44%), Mijas (-31%) and Estepona (-73%).

10-kilo stash stolen from a storeroom at the New Mole House police station turns up in Taraguilla


The Guardia Civil recently raided a house in Taraguilla and arrested two Spaniards and seized the drugs, 15,540 euros and several firearms.
Gibraltar Police are trying to establish whether there is a link between the find and the drugs that went missing from the exhibits room at police headquarters.
Gibraltar detectives are checking whether 350 grams of pure cocaine seized by the Guardia Civil in San Roque came from a 10-kilo stash stolen from a storeroom at the New Mole House police station.
Spanish law enforcement agencies are working closely with Gibraltar police on this case. There is a limited market on the Rock for cocaine and it is believed it could have been taken to Spain. Hence police both sides of the border are following up all significant cocaine busts in southern Spain to see if there is any link to Gibraltar.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Darli Velazquez-Armas traced him to Spain

Last Friday, police chased him from Vecindario to the capital city Las Palmas. At one point the suspect got out of his car and fled on foot through a cemetery. He later attempted two carjackings before police finally arrested him in an industrial area, and even then he tried to grab an officer's gun, the ministry said.
The National Court in Madrid is now processing Velazquez-Armas' extradition to the United States.

Darli Velazquez-Armas, a 33-year-old Cuban citizen, was arrested last week in the Canary Islands in a raid coordinated with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Interior Ministry said.
According to U.S. court documents, Velazquez-Armas was arrested on Jan. 30 in a DEA sting operation involving 130 kilos (290 pounds) of cocaine shipped to Miami from Ecuador.
A U.S. grand jury indicted him on drug trafficking charges. He pleaded not guilty and posted a $1 million (€700,000) bond Feb. 20, and was required to surrender his travel documents. His trial was scheduled to begin April 16. Velazquez-Armas failed to appear at a March court hearing, and was declared a fugitive on May 14.
Spanish authorities caught up with him in June in a Madrid suburb, but he escaped a dragnet after ramming his car into a police car.
Velazquez-Armas was later spotted in the town of Vecindario on Gran Canaria, one of Spain's Canary Islands, where he had continued to engage in drug trafficking, and officials put him under surveillance, the Spanish ministry said.
When a drug trafficking suspect skipped out on a $1 million Federal bond, the bail bonds company traced him to Spain by going through his garbage for clues.
Just weeks after posting a $1 million bond, Darli Velazquez-Armas skipped bail. On March 10th, 2007 Federal authorities were alerted that something was wrong when Velazquez’s electronic monitoring bracelet sent a failure signal that the defendant had failed to report home. The huge bond was posted in the U.S. Southern District Federal Court in Miami, Florida. The $1,000,000.00 Federal bond was underwritten by a California bail bond insurance company.

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