The Bulgarian bandits in Spain
"The organized Bulgarian bandit groups dealing with car thefts get involved more and more seriously into the coca traffic coming from South America. Just in Malaga, Marbella, Benalmadella and Toremolinos act 5-6 such bands formed by Bulgarians. They are very closely connected with the Columbian cartels and very active as well.", Alfledo Marihuan, a Director of "Criminal department" in Malaga says for "168 hours" weekly and adds: "Approximately 20 Bulgarians are arrested in Malaga after they had been captured with different quantity of coca starting from 1 and reaching 50 kilos. The arrested people are mules. We have almost no information about their bosses, but soon will bring them into the spot light."
According to Alfredo Marihuan, the Bulgarians in Latin America are in touch with the people responsible for the Distribution in Europe. Our countrymen constantly travel to Columbia and Venezuela. They negotiate the deals and organize the transport of the shipments to Spain and Europe. "This tendency was proven once again by the six Bulgarians we detained with 819 kilos of coca in February in Soto Grande and Barcelona.", Alfredo Marihuan says.
More than 1000 Bulgarian car thieves are listed into the card indexes of the Spanish police. They have been arrested and released in numerous police operations. This forces them to look for a new path where they are still not popular, hence not known for the police. They've already tried the robberies, blackmails, trafficking of cars, arms and hashish. The car thieves are doing everything within their power and use all their international contacts in order to gain a share from the coca business. In this field the earnings are bigger, but the risks lower having in mind that on the Spanish territory roam about all types of international mugs. During the negotiations between the Bulgarians and the Columbians for 819 kilos of white dust our countrymen do not even think that the special services are already follow their footprints. A mysterious killing refers the police toward the Bulgarian group.
On February 26, 2004 at Tampiko Str. in Madrid a man is speaking inside a phone cabin. Two men on motorcycles come close to him. They pull out submachine guns and open fire. The man dies covered with from 10 bullets. The two assassins run away. In the victim's passports there is a text:
Gusepe Loro from Venezuela
The passport turns out a forged one. The Spanish cops verify the picture of the victim with their albums. They ascertain that in 2001 the Bulgarian special police services had been forwarded the picture of the same person. The Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs informs them that he is engaged with coca traffic of vast size. After he is killed the Spanish cops send an inquiry to Bulgaria and dactyl scoped marks from the victim's car. The expertise shows that the killed one is Dimo Neikov Jelev, born on 7 August, 1967 in Karapelit village, Dobrich region.
Jelev's adventures - the hidden skull-cap
Still in 1993-1994 Dimo Jelev gets into the field of vision of the Bulgarian special services. His start up in the cocaine business coincides with the genesis of the Bulgarian drug organization in Bulgaria. In the beginning of 90's Jelev is a lone wolf and he does not participate in grouping. He repeatedly closes the ways between Bulgaria and Turkey. From a huckster he evolves to a drug mule. He travels all over Europe. In Vienna he draws together with Kuzman Guslekov - a drug Traficant shoot dead in 1999 in Sofia because of 600 kilos Columbian coca that disappeared mysteriously. At this time Guslekov yet had been released from an Austrian prison when he had served a sentence, he had introduced in the cocaine business and lives like a citizen of the world. In 1995 Dimo Jelev is detained in Austria for heroin traffic. He receives an effective sentence. For several months period Jelev digs a tunnel and manages to escape from the prison. He hides in different European countries. He is caught in Switzerland. Then he is extradited to Austria where he serves his fulltime sentence. Dimo Jelev leaves the prison and goes to Spain with Kuzman. Guslekov gives shelter to him at his big house in Marbella - at this time the late drug dealer is in warm relations with high-standing persons from the cartels. Guslekov gets Jelev into the schemes. He starts to organize cruises with yachts between Spain, Columbia and Venezuela. He has at least 10-12 forged passports. The close friends around Kuzman and Dimo form an international group from Bulgarians, Spaniards, Italians, English men and Russians. The main investor of the group is Misha - a Jew from a Russian origin. He is indecently rich, an owner of a palace in Marbella and unique yacht, where he often welcomes Guslekov. During an ordinary row in the high seas
Misha is executed
but his yacht blew up. Mass arrests of members of the group in Marbella follow. Italians and Spaniards are detained for drug trafficking, their bank accounts and property are pit in an execution. Kuzman Guslekov gets away with it. Later he comes back to Bulgaria. In his Sofia circle are the late Poly Pantev, Bai Mile, Robert Stefanov, Serbian bandits close to the terrorist Sreten Yosich. In the end of 99's continually to Kuzman is also Konstantin Dishliev, shoot dead with 10 bullets on May 14 this year in front of an Indian restaurant "Tadj Mahal" in Sofia.
"At the end of 90's Kuzman gets Konstantin Dishliev into the schemes for money laundry of resources coming from Spain. He helps him to become a boss in the leasing business", a close friend to the late Guslekov says for 168 hours daily. "A man of confidence in the group was also Dishliev's brother-in-low Brendo, who also has strong positions among the Bulgarian car thieves and cocaine dealers in Spain." After Gislekov's murder the organization continues to exist.
In 2001 Dimo Jelev from Dobrich comes back to Bulgaria after almost 10 years spent abroad. He makes tours around the disco clubs in Varna and Sunny Beaches with his Porsche Kayen. He renames himself from Dimo Dimitrov to Dimcho Jelev. He actively travels between Spain, Venezuela and Columbia. Each time he spends there between 4 and 6 months. Bulgarian special services catch up Jelev in a hot connection with a group from Varna and Pleven, occupied with thefts of cars, a group leaded by Ivan Paunov-Govanito and Ivo Birovski - The Box.
"The organization has structures in Spain and in Bulgaria and is active in the car and hashish traffic. Since 2000 it enters also in the cocaine business. The trafficking of the elite drug becomes priority for the organization in the latest years.", a top official from the Internal Ministry says for 168 hours weekly.
Bulgarian special policemen inform their Spanish colleagues that Dimo Jelev is dealing with trafficking of coca in large quantity. His false identity secures him anonymity until the day of the shooting down.
The Spanish policemen discover a Columbian trace in the attempt, but can't prove it. The murder remains undiscovered. Shortly before the shooting of Dimcho Jelev the cops catch
2 tons of cocaine
in an uninhabitable accommodations in Madrid. The warehouse is next to Jelev's apartment. Another 150 kilos of cocaine are found by the cops in the neighboring accommodation. Witnesses claim they've seen him round about. Each time he had appeared in groups of two or three men. The dealer is punished, after somebody's refusal to pay for the detained shipments of coca, shows one of the leading versions for his killing.
Special policemen start to investigate Jolev's connections. After his killing his mobile phone had registered missed calls from Bulgaria. In Jelev's apartment a note book is found. All his accounts - debit and credit are strictly listed in it, by the victim himself. He mentions also specific names and figures. The police find as well his phone book. He had had a colorful contact list - Bulgarians, Spaniards, Columbians and Venezuelans. The net connected with the late Jelev starts to brighten up. His friends do not suspect they are already in the daylight.
One year later
Bulgarian-Spanish organization plans his serial hit with coca. "Such well equipped and structured Bulgarian organization in Spain we detain for the first time.", Eloy Alvares, Director of Drug traffic department in Judicial police in Madrid comments for 168 hours weekly. The project started with the investigation of the Bulgarian group in Barcelona. We discovered that some of their members had taken on houses and offices by the side of the port located between Malaga and Cadis. The rent contracts were signed on behalf of a company headquartered in Gibraltar. We used to watch the group. We understood they are ready to transfer with a yacht a huge quantity of cocaine from Columbia to the sea cost of Costa del Sol. The itinerary, chosen from the Bulgarian is unusual. The seacoast of Costa del Sol is used mainly for trafficking of hashish coming from Morocco through the strait of Gibraltar towards Spain. "Cocaine" yachts sail mainly from Venezuela to Martinique Island, but the fishing ships loaded with a larger quantity of drugs turn to Galicia."
"We've expected the cocaine to move from Malaga towards Barcelona and after towards another European country.", a participant in the police action comments. "All men on the yacht were from Varna. Several times the yacht had changed its name in the open sea.", the same source adds.
The cops loose the yacht's traces. It is discretely laid at Soto Grande, located at 70 kilometers from Marbella.
On February 13 2005 starts
BWM a property of the group is stopped for a check up. The car is with a Spanish registration number and transfers 80 kilos of cocaine from Soto Grande toward Barcelona. Georgi Kosev from Sofia and the Spaniards Juan Palasin and Arantaso Amoros were at the car, all of them are arrested. Later on at 65 Buena Vista Str. 741 kilos of cocaine are detained. According to the Spanish police this apartment had been used many times as a drug depot. The police arrest many people in Barcelona. Five Bulgarians are detained the in the city - Vasil Ugrinov, Violeta Tzekova, Ivailo Haselbart, Ivan Vladimirov and Ivo Andonov. During the same police raid are detained also the Spanish citizens - Ricardo Himenes, Pedro Meliado and Rashid Belgazi who has an Arabic origin. They are caught at different addresses. Some of them are nabbed at cafes, others in their accommodations and on the street. The cops continue the operations also around the port in Soto Grande. They break in a house at Ribera del Emperador Str.
"During the search we found some 137 kilos of cocaine.", Eloy Alvares, Director of Drug traffic department in Judicial police in Madrid says. "We also found keys marked "Esperite", he adds. The accommodation is at 15 meters from the port. At this place has stopped "Esperite" yacht, sailing under English flag. The yacht turns out to be empty, but secret place for drug concealment is discovered. About ten days later on February 21 in Barcelona the cops arrest some other members of the group - Juan Alaval, Alfonso Rees and Maria Segura. In a search at the house more 79 kilos cocaine, 700 thousands Euro and pistols are found out. The arrested in the operation "Portimar" wait and see the lawsuit at
the arrests in Malaga and Marbella.
More 5-6 Bulgarians are still inquired as participants in the cocaine contraband. The main body of the organization is still under investigation both from the Bulgarian and the Spanish police. "We suspect that the main players are shared out in three organized groups from Sofia, Varna, Pleven and Blagoevgrad.", a high positioned police source comments for "168 hours" weekly. "They are engaged with traffic of cocaine, cars, arms and forge of documents. The organizations have stable positions in Madrid, Malaga and Barcelona.", he adds.
"Higher in the hierarchy are positioned Ivan Paunov - Giovanitto from Varna and Petiu Penukov from Pleven.", a top police official says specially for "168 hours" weekly. "They partner with Radoslav - Radeto from Blagoevgrad, who lives in Spain. Radeto had been very close with Vasil Gorchev - The bad-eyed, killed in Blagoevgrad last year. One of the versions for his killing leads to failed shipments of cocaine, as well."
Bullets for Giovanitto
Right after "Portimar" operation in February, Giovanitto incognito comes back in Varna. He appears there after 6 months absence and with a changed name. On March 13 unknown man opens fire on him through the window display of Soho caf? in Varna. Giovanitto's chests, stomach and legs are covered with holes. Slightly injured is also his girlfriend.
After a long treatment Giovanitto rises to his feet. "The main version for the attempt on Giovanitto's life is a hit of the Columbian organization because of 819 kilos of detained cocaine.", a high positioned official from the internal Ministry comments.
On May 14 in front of "Taj Mahal" restaurant in Sofia shoot dead Konstantin Dishliev - a leasing boss, old friend of the late drug smugglers Dimo Jelev and Kuzman Guslekov. The businessman Dishliev had been at the top of the pyramid, where the financial spates come. It is possible that he had not been aware about this specific operation and its failure. "The police operation "Portimar" caused loss to a large Columbian organization. Obviously its partners are not engaged to pay back the money", Eloy Alvares, Director of Drug traffic department in Judicial police in Madrid explains. The killing of Konstantin Dishliev in Sofia is probably part of settlement of partners' accounts.
It is not impossible through Dishliev;s killing the Columbian to try to comer people of his circle to the wall. They demonstrate them what will happen if they do not pay back the money. Despite the police suspicions that the coordinator of the cocaine action is Dishliev's brother in law - Brendo, the investigation hardly will lead to him. Brendo is not arrested at the time of the operation. Some assume that part of the organizers had kept their money in off-shore zones in Caribbean Sea. The investigation for the money laundry marks no significant progress. Just for the time being.
In a square: A brigade
They are brother in arms still in Bulgaria
"The key players in Spain are Giovanitto, Ivo - The Box and Petiu Penukov from Pleven, Ivo - The Little One from Balchik and Nikolay - Radeto from Blagoevgrad", a specialist from the Internal Ministry reveals.
Giovanitto from Varna, Ivo - The Box and Petiu from Pleven know each other from the middle of 90's. Their group finds points of intersections in car trafficking from Bulgaria to the former Soviet Republics, state criminologists working on the case. Ivo - The Box and Petiu Penukov come to live with "their colleagues" in Varna. In the end of 90's they all leave for Spain. Giovanitto, Ivo - The Box and Petukov become leaders of criminal groups in Spain, claim specialist in Spain. In Spain the Bulgarians work together with Englishmen, Frenchmen and Spaniards, positioned on higher levels in the organized criminality. The westerners organize and finance the deals. The Bulgarian bosses assure the escort and the security, the transport and part of the distribution of the good. Close to the core, gravitate satellite groups with floating structure that fulfill the orders. These are boys that travel regularly between Bulgaria and Spain. The bosses replace them every two or three months. Most of the mules do not have police records and their past is clear. "Ivo - The Box is a very powerful and well known person.", says a criminologist from Malaga for "168 hours weekly" and adds: "We were shadowed him. He left for Bulgaria together with his right hand Petio Penukov, investigated for car thefts. They change their residence replacing Pleven with Varna and vise versa. At the present their organization in Marbella takes care about other people."
Ivo - The Box has a forwarding company with 25 trucks for international transport and official and legal business.
Just to the very start of "Portimar" operation Giovanitto is in Spain and controls the business from Marbella and Malaga. For him works one of the strongest groups for car, hashish and cocaine trafficking, police sources claim.
As a main partner of Giovanitto, Ivo- The Box and Petiu Penukov the cops point out Radoslav Radev from Blagoevgrad. He is also with strong positions among the Bulgarian groups in Barcelona and Madrid. At present he is in Spain. Radeto is very close with Vassil Gorchev - The blind one, the financial boss shot dead last years in Blagoevgrad. According to police information the group of Radeto in Spain has received financial support from The Blind one, who from his side has worked with a boss of VIS force group. Part of the investments made by The blind one, comes back legally to Bulgaria as a luxury cars.
Along with the work on "Portimar" operation one more Bulgarian lights up - Ivo - The Little one from Balchik. He lives in Madrid from 10 years. He is an ex culturist. They describe him as a smart man, the split and image of Tom Cruz. Prior his departure to Spain he works at the sports hall of a popular Bulgarian culturist. In Spain he creates a group of 50-60 bodyguards. He fights to take under his control the security of a disco clubs. After a round of street scrimmage with hand to hand fighting he manages to thrust upon the Spanish gypsies, who used to guard the night clubs by then. Under his guidance the Bulgarians takes control over the security of popular disco clubs in Madrid and Costa del Sol. "The Bulgarians have the image of one of the most powerful securities. They groups consist of fighters, judo fighters, boxers, karate players. This is important because at the disco clubs mass beatings often happen provoked by Moroccans, Algerians and Columbians.", says a Bulgarian in Spain.
"The disco clubs in Spain are used as a market and for distribution of drugs.", a police from the department for organized criminality in "Guardia civil" in Madrid says for "168 hours" weekly. Ivo - The Little one buys the drugs wholesale from Bulgarian groups and resell it to the security in the night clubs. Thanks to the connections with the underworld Ivo - The little one makes bigger deliveries to more significant clients. People from his closest circle have bough houses in Madrid, Ibiza and Palma de Majorca.
Part of the drugs detained during "Portimar" operation had to be distributed on the home market in Spain.
In a square: Eloy Alvares, Director of Drug traffic department in judicial police in Madrid:
The Bulgarians are involved in all types of crimes
- Mr. Albares, what is the role of the Bulgarian organized criminality in the cocaine trafficking from Latin America to Europe?
- The Bulgarians are involved in all types of crimes, but less with cocaine trafficking for the time being. During "Portimar" operation we detained a serious organization of Bulgarian criminals with big quantity of drugs. The operation took place thanks to the coordinated work with Bulgarian Internal Ministry and General- Lieutenant Boyko Borisov. For a long time we watched the group in Barcelona with a special devices. We've ascertained that they are preparing to transfer 819 kilos of cocaine from Columbia. Unfortunately the two main Bulgarian organizers escaped before the start of the operation. At the moment they are investigated for drug trafficking. This is the first case when a serious quantity of cocaine is cornered in the region of Malaga and Marbella, ferried with a yacht. Still at the seaside of Costa del Sol come a lot of hashish and little cocaine. Marbella and Malaga are The Mecca of hashish, because they are closely located to Morocco. From here passes the big part of the traffic of joint from Africa to United Kingdom. Usually the hashish is reloaded and stored in Malaga. Recently during a specialized operation we detained a boat with 8 tones of hashish coming from Morocco and going to UK. The drug enters on the territory of Spain mainly with fishing ships or containers. That is why we were surprised that a yacht with cocaine is sailing towards Costa del Sol. This way of trafficking is relatively new. Between 500 and 1000 kilos elite Latin-American drug can be transported with a boat like the "Bulgarian one". The organizers have invented a perfect system to pass by unnoticed and to cover themselves, because along the seaside of Costa del Sol sail a lot of boats.
- How the large smugglers of cocaine in Spain act?
- The most powerful organizations import bigger quantities and use fishing ships and then containers. They prefer the seaside of Galisi province. The shore there is too specific; it is broken with many high costs, there are no ways leading to the seacoast and is difficult to be controlled. There are a lot of fishing ships in this area and the smugglers are hiding among them. The observation of the yachts is too difficult because extra motors are assembled on the ships and they become extremely powerful. They move with an incredible speed. A crater slipped out of us and with a lightning speed got out to the ocean. The vessel was out of fuel. Another ship came to help the crew by giving them fuel. Later we arrested the quick carter and found in it 6 tons of cocaine.
- What kind of tricks "the pirates" use trying to outplay you?
- To further complicate the system, the drug smugglers reload the drug in an open sea. There are operations when the cocaine is thrown across through 4-5 ships. This happens with the speed of light in the sea. These organizations are closed societies; it is difficult to be investigated. They know the sea to perfection; they are clear about with our style of work and find a way to oppose us. They install to the drug counterweight and GPS systems. Then they send it to the bottom if they see we are approaching them or when they feel suspicious helicopters over their heads. Later they find the drug by means of a radio signal. Usually we attack the ships with special police forces. They jump on board and for several minutes take possession of the situation prior the drug to stagger to the water. When the drug comes to Galicia they hide it in their homes, caves and storehouses. As a rule there are two places when the drug could be hidden. The first one belongs to the Columbians, but the second is smugglers' one - the people who have to take the money.
- During "Temple" operation you've arrested 52 Columbian drug smugglers starting with the bosses and finishing with the distributors. Could you tell us more about it?
- "Temple" operation took place in 1999 and we detained 13 tons of cocaine. Part of them we caught on a ship, the rest we found in an apartment in Galicia. We detained 52 people. During the investigation we clarified all the structure of the organization. We even reached the bosses. In 2001 we discovered one of the most important drug mafia bosses in Spain - Sito Minianko, who by the way had adopted unique safety measures. It was very hard to keep an eye on him, because he had a counter surveillance. He never used to spoke over the phone. One day he went in one of his shops in Madrid and bought approximately 1000 SIM carts. We decided to secretly introduce in his organization two assistants - the first one from DEA - The American Service for Drug fighting, another one from Canada. They attained to Sito Minianko's partner in Columbia and offered him to transport the cocaine with their ship. He bit to the bite. A judge allowed the ship to go to Latin America. Near by Peru they load the ship with 4 tones of cocaine. All the crew, including the captain, was collaborators of the Spanish police. The ship passed through the seaside of the United States. Over there we get into another 11 special service policemen who had to control the situation. After that all the crew rushed at the Atlantic Ocean. Sito Minianko's organization sent another ship to reload the drug in open sea. When the ships reached their heads, the Spanish special services captured them. We collected evidences and Minianko - the unapproachable one was sentence to 18 years in prison.
- What are the new tendencies in the trafficking of cocaine coming from Latin America?
- During mass police actions, we detained more than 20 fishing ships from Columbia. This leaded to a change of the strategies of the organizations. There is a tendency the drug trafficking to change its itinerary and to pass through the African zone of the Atlantic Ocean. It passes through Morocco, Mauritania, Ghana, Gambia, Senegal, and Togo. These are countries with extremely weak police control. The authorities there do not have enough knowledge and experience to fight with the drugs. Hashish's way is yet used for trafficking of cocaine. The last operations are proving this assumption. Recently near by Alhesiras we detained a fast ship equipped with additional motors. 1 ton of hashish and 500 kilos of cocaine, several Columbians and Moroccans were detained in it. This shipment was the serial proof that the ways of the African and the Latin American drug cuts across.