Crime on the Costa del Sol: The Spanish Christmas rally that brought down Belgium’s most wanted drug lord | Spain
Yannick MW, a 33-year-old Belgian, had settled in a luxury villa in Estepona, on the Spanish Costa del Sol, with all his family: his wife, his 12-year-old daughter, his parents and his family. according to an investigation by the organized crime unit of the UCO of the Spanish Civil Guard.
But it wasn’t until June last year that law enforcement learned he was Belgium’s most wanted drug trafficker.
“[He was] the head of the largest organization in Antwerp, an importer of huge shipments of cocaine from Latin America who also controlled this important European seaport; it also had links with arms trafficking, ”said an investigator, referring to the second largest port in Europe.
He told us that he knew why he was arrested, and that he felt relieved because he had been through several months of intense stress.
UCO investigating officer
Belgian justice wants to put him in prison for 15 years for these activities. But for over a year, MW lived a life of luxury in southern Spain, inside mansions in remote locations where any approaching vehicle would easily grab his attention.
But Christmas was his downfall. Civil Guard agents arrested him in Almuñécar, in the province of Granada, where he was spending the holidays with members of his family.
Belgian police dismantled their Antwerp network in October, arresting its members and issuing a European arrest warrant against Mr. W. The latter had then already been located in the province of Malaga by the Spanish Civil Guard, following an alert from the Belgian authorities.
“They suspected that he had fled to Spain, and more specifically to Malaga,” said a member of the UCO’s team of fugitives from justice, which specializes in tracking down criminals hiding in Spain. The Costa del Sol remains a favorite destination for runaway drug lords in search of a discreet hiding place.
After these arrests in Antwerp, and presumably alerted by assistants that he might be under surveillance, Mr. W. moved to another house in Estepona, abandoning the beachfront property where he lived in favor of a much larger villa. far north of the city, at the foot of the mountains. “It was the last house in the neighborhood, it was isolated,” said a source involved in the investigation.
As soon as the UCO officers received the arrest warrant, they moved into the house. But it was too late: MW had left. “There was no one in the house, he was missing,” the source said.
The Christmas holidays were approaching and the officers decided to wait and see what would happen. “We didn’t know if he was in Spain or not,” the source said. Officers confirmed that her family remained in Estepona, where her daughter was still enrolled in the same school and lived with her grandparents.
The suspect always chose detached houses located at the far ends of residential developments
Then, on December 23, investigators saw the grandparents packing and loading bags into the back of a car. They followed them to a luxury residential development in Almuñécar (Granada), where the vehicle’s passengers joined other family members inside a house located, once again, nearby. furthest from the subdivision.
A few days later, a man came out of the house on an electric scooter. It was Yannick MW, who was immediately arrested. “He told us that he knew why he was arrested, and that he felt relieved because he had been through several months of intense stress,” said an officer. The suspect was sent to prison pending his extradition to Belgium.
The operation was carried out by the UCO fugitive team, which has arrested several foreign criminals in Spain since its inception in 2015. In 2018, this unit captured one of Europe’s most wanted pedophiles in the province of Granada; the suspect was extradited to the UK, where he was sentenced to 23 years in prison for sexually assaulting two minors.
english version by Susana Urra.