The Provincial Court of Granada has sentenced the former commander of the Civil Guard, Francisco García Santaella, 64, to seven years and three months in prison and a fine of 6.1 million euros, for a crime against public health – collaborating with drug traffickers to allow the entry into Spain of almost 4,000 kilos of hashish through the coast of Granada– and bribery committed as a public official, since he received 120,000 euros and a vehicle from the traffickers to whom he facilitated the entry of the drug from Morocco.
The Granada Court judged the facts in July 2019 and, in September of that year, issued a sentence acquitting the ex-command of the Civil Guard because, although he considered the facts related to drugs proven, he considered them prescribed. However, with regard to bribery –accepting money as an official to carry out or allow activities contrary to the exercise of the law or the Administration–, the court considered that the economic consideration was not proven. To do this, he alleged lack of credibility of those who had declared having paid the money to the agent, the drug traffickers.
The Prosecutor’s Office, the agent’s defense and the Unified Association of the Civil Guard (AUGC), which has exercised the private prosecution in this process, appealed that sentence before the Supreme Court which, last November, forced the audience to deliberate again and issue a new sentence.
In this second deliberation, the new sentence was produced, which distributes the sentences in five years in prison and a fine of six million euros for a crime against public health of a substance that does not cause serious damage to health, and two years and three months in prison and 120,000 euros for a crime of bribery. This sentence can be appealed again before the Supreme Court.
Francisco García Santaella was in 2006, the year in which the crimes were committed, commander-in-chief of the judicial police in Granada, “with management functions and coordinator of the organized crime and anti-drug team,” the judges narrate. It is considered proven that the agent agreed with two traffickers on a plan to allow the entry of a significant quantity of drugs through a beach near Motril.
Three hash tickets
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On the other hand, García Santaella made sure to do his trick in full view of everyone: he informed his superiors that he had reached an agreement with some confidants – now unaccounted for – to allow three entries of hashish. In the first two, of 2,000 kilos each, the agents would not act to allow the drug traffickers to trust. On the third, however, there would already be seizure of drugs and arrests.
The first operation took place in full view of the civil guards and, as planned, no one was arrested. That hashish, on the other hand, was lost and never located despite allegedly being controlled by García Santaella.
The second agreed operation, presumably, since it has not been demonstrated by the Civil Guard or the courts, occurred months later, in May 2006.
Later, the commander was pressured because his colleagues told him that the planned third operation was not taking place. Then, García Santaella concocted, according to the court, an entry of almost 4,000 kilos of “poor quality” hashish, of which he did seize. In this case, no arrests were made.
In his sentence after the appeals, the Supreme Court considered, among other things, that the fact that it was proven that the highest police officer in the area had participated in this drug trafficking to be finally acquitted “is scandalous” and ruled that the amount of drug seized, 4,000 kilos, made the crime “particularly serious” which, in practice, extended the statute of limitations for the crime to annul that prescription, which has kept the crimes alive and has allowed the Provincial Court to convict Francisco García Santaella in this second revision.
David Martín, provincial secretary of the AUGC in Granada, has expressed his satisfaction with this new sentence and told this newspaper: “It was about time justice was done. For the association, this is one more step to dignify the work of all the Civil Guards who were deceived by this command that, supposedly, under the misnamed discipline, took advantage of their position. In a statement, the AUGC has also stated that “it is pleased to be a fundamental part of the fight against corruption in the Civil Guard.”