Four Dead in Smuggling Boat Chase Off Gibraltar
A Spanish customs vessel collided with a suspected smuggling boat in the Strait of Gibraltar last week, capsizing the boat and killing four suspects on board.
The accident occurred last Thursday evening twelve miles off Estepona, Spain, when the suspects' go-fast boat attempted to escape an interdiction attempt. A 45-minute chase ensued; customs officials said that the suspects suddenly changed course, sending them crashing into the bow of the patrol vessel.
The impact killed four suspects aboard the boat, three Spanish citizens and one individual from Morocco. Attempts at resuscitation were not successful, and their bodies were brought to Cadiz for an autopsy.
Customs officials confirmed shortly after the accident that no drugs were found on the suspects' boat. However, they noted that the boat was characteristic of a drug-smuggling vessel, a 12-meter RIB with three powerful outboards.
Local media report that friends and relatives of the deceased turned out in front of a court in Algeciras to call for "justice" for the four men.
The Guardia Civil is investigating whether the agents on board the patrol vessel acted improperly in the events leading up to the accident.
The chief of customs in Algeciras, Lisardo Capote González, expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased. "I pray for the repose of the souls of the four people who unfortunately found death in the waters of the Strait. My deepest condolences to his family and other loved ones," he said in an open letter.
Capote also pushed back against critics of his agency, saying that customs officials work "selflessly, professionally . . . in defense of the law, the constitutional order to which everyone is entitled – including those who insult and threaten us.”