Civil Guards arrested for airport extortion racket

13th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

13 February 2005, MALAGA — Nineteen members of the Civil Guard were arrested for extorting money from passengers in exchange for facilitating or bypassing customs inspections of their luggage, authorities said.

13 February 2005

MALAGA — Nineteen members of the Civil Guard were arrested for extorting money from passengers in exchange for facilitating or bypassing customs inspections of their luggage, authorities said.

The agents, who belonged to the airport's police detail, have been accused of soliciting and accepting bribes, officials within the Civil Guard said.

Apparently, the arrested men told Chinese citizens who arrived at the airport that they had to pay EUR 50 to get their luggage out of customs, the sources said.

As a result, members of the Chinese community located along Spain's Costa del Sol warned their relatives and friends that they should carry a 50-euro bill with them when they came to Malaga to avoid customs problems.

The investigation into the matter found that the practice of soliciting bribes from travellers was "habitual" on the part of a small group of officers with the airport police contingent.

In recent months, "much" evidence has been obtained on the bribery allegations from security camera film, voluntary statements from travellers and assorted documentation regarding the criminal activity.

The Civil Guard's investigation into the matter concluded that the officers pocketed a large - but so far unspecified - amount of cash in exchange for greasing the wheels of customs for non-European Union travellers and for services for EU travellers which they never actually performed. The investigation is still under way.

The arrested officers were taken to the Civil Guard facilities in Malaga to give statements, after which they will be turned over to judicial authorities, said the source.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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