A suspected heroin kingpin dubbed the Spanish Pablo Escobar has walked free less than 48 hours after his arrest due to a legal technicality.
The alleged boss of bosses dubbed the ‘Spanish Pablo Escobar of Heroin’ was arrrested on a farm in the province of Toledo in Castile-La Mancha on 14th January after a months-long investigation by Spanish police.
The Spanish National Police believe him to be the largest importer of heroin in the country, but the Superior Court of Justice of Castile-La Mancha (TSJCM) has now freed the suspect, citing that his fundamental rights were violated during his arrest.
The judge reportedly failed to provide the suspect’s lawyer with the essential and necessary information and elements to be able to challenge the provisional detention of the suspect, who has now been named only as Francisco H. G., due to strict local privacy laws.
This alleged failure by the judge, named as Justo Gallardo, represents a violation of the suspect’s basic rights, according to local media.
The Provincial Court of Toledo revoked on Monday the order issued by the Court of Instruction No. 4 of Torrijos, cancelled the deprivation of liberty of the alleged drug trafficker, and agreed with his lawyer that he should be released immediately.
In its five-page ruling, the Toledo court said that there was “nothing” that could possibly have “justified” the decision by the judge at the TSJCM not to grant the suspect’s lawyer’s request for access to essential elements of the case.
In so doing, they made it impossible for the suspect’s lawyer to dispute the client’s detention, leaving the judiciary with no other choice than to release him.
Three other suspects were also reportedly freed for similar reasons.
The chief prosecutor of Toledo, Antonio Huelamo, has since said that the anti-drug prosecutor “believes that he acted correctly, as is done in secret cases”.
He added that the case would be studied “carefully” and that the Prosecutor’s Office “will carry out a reassessment of the deficits that may have been committed, to correct them”, and request that the suspect be remanded in custody again.
It is currently unclear if the suspect, who is currently free, is subject to a travel ban.
Francisco H. G. was initially arrested on 14th January. The raid was one of the biggest busts in recent years, according to the police.
The police arrested nine other people, six men and three women, believed to be part of the organisation, and they seized 55 kilogrammes (121 lbs) of heroin that had reportedly arrived in the country from the Netherlands during the bust. They also seized guns, luxury cars and cash.
The prime suspect is alleged to be “closely associated” with an international criminal group led by an unnamed Turkish citizen known as ‘El Paralitico’ (‘The Paralytic One’), according to the Spanish police.
The police said in a statement obtained by Newsflash that they had also carried out “eight searches in various homes in the provinces of Madrid, Toledo and Caceres, as well as in a vehicle dealership and a car repair shop, both located in Caceres.”
The police, who said that they began investigating the operation last March, added that the organisation “had its base of operations in the province of Toledo” and “carried out large imports of narcotics from the Netherlands to distribute them in Madrid, Castile and Leon, Castile-La Mancha and Extremadura”.
The police said that after months of investigations, “agents managed to unravel this criminal network that had most of its infrastructure in the province of Toledo. The organisation had various farms and houses in various locations in this province that they used to hide drug shipments.”
The police said that as the investigation advanced, the authorities were able to identify multiple contacts between the alleged leader of the drug organisation and the rest of his henchmen, as well as members of other criminal groups, to whom he is alleged to have sold heroin.
The police said that the heroin overlord made at least two trips to Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, between July and September 2021 with the purpose of “personally negotiating the importation of drug shipments with the Turkish organisation”.