"I have been working in this area for ten years and I know it very well"

2016-02-23 08:00:00

With lengthy experience in police investigations and after a decade working on cases on the Costa del Sol, Enrique Lamelas has now taken over the difficult post of Chief of the National Police force in Marbella, a place in which none of his predecessors in the past ten years has managed to settle. In his office at the police station, he explained to us that when he decided to take up the post, he already had a profound knowledge of the difficulties involved.
-Seven of your eight predecessors said they were here to stay, but their mandates didn’t last long. Will things be different for you?
-I knew them all, because I have been working here for many years. The personal circumstances which meant that they were only here for a short time were different. I have been living on the Costa del Sol for ten years now. I have a serious idea of what permanence means.
-Some of your colleagues left by choice, but at least three were asked to do so. Are your hands free?
-I am in this post and this location with the backing of my superior officers. Marbella police headquarters is a free-choice posting, and it was the place I applied to be.
-Why was Marbella your first choice?
-I already know the area. I have been working with the Udyco unit fighting against organised crime since 1994 and was commissioned to set up the similar Greco unit up on the Costa del Sol in 2005. I have been working in this area for ten years.
-What attracts you about the challenge of being responsible for Marbella?
-Professionally, it is an aspect of my work which I have not done before. I have spent 36 years with the Judicial Police, always involved with investigations of major drug trafficking networks, organised crime... for me, this post is a challenge, because it means being involved in all aspects of police work, including management, public safety and forensic police. It is definitely a challenge.
-What are the main security problems in Marbella?
-There are very varied types of crime. People from Marbella who commit crimes here are not the same as those who live here but break the law elsewhere, like some of the major drug traffickers, although the hashish routes have changed a good deal. Or the ones who come here to carry out robberies because it is a wealthy area, which is what is known as itinerant crime.
-There are two other habitual types in Marbella: arresting people who are wanted in other parts of the world, and balance of accounts crimes.
- There are some people who haven’t come here to hide exactly, but who come to live on the Costa del Sol and who find a certain protection here from people in their environment or their family. Settling of scores, or balance of accounts, happens for the same reason, although in recent years there hasn’t been much of that sort of thing in Marbella.
-Does Marbella police station have the resources to act against such a wide range of crimes?
-You will never find a police chief who is content with the resources available. The police station also has to be involved in public safety, guarding buildings, transfer of detainees, escorting public figures when they come here, maintaining public order at certain events... to do all that, you need plenty of uniformed officers. Do I have enough people? There is a lack of personnel in the police force altogether, not just this station. Although for the type of crime that you are talking about, organised crime, we have the Udyco Costa del Sol unit.
-Marbella must be a complex place, with such a wide range of crimes.
-The complexity here is that there are 27 kilometres of coast and 170 square kilometres of overall area. Other places only have to cover a tenth of what we have here.
-Does the presence of dignitaries from Arab countries make Marbella more vulnerable to the Jihadist threat?
-I have a local information brigade which does very good preventive work. We have protection details for diplomatic figures. But that doesn’t take away the fact that anywhere in Spain, or Europe or the world, anybody can come from anywhere and carry out an attack. Marbella is no more vulnerable than anywhere else.
-Anything that happens in Marbella always makes the news. Is that an added problem?
-It isn’t a problem, but it’s a handicap. Something happens in Marbella and people immediately start talking about mafia groups, which is a term that I don’t like, because it refers to a certain type of Italian organisation. I prefer to refer to this sort of thing as organised crime.
-What is the police headquarters like, internally? Some of your predecessors had problems when they arrived and then started to see what things were like. How have you found it?
-I already knew the police station. I have met colleagues with lengthy international careers and a great deal of experience, who know how things should be done. There are also young people who are keen to work, although I can’t avoid the fact that after a couple of years these people, because they haven’t bee. soruce surinenglish