Monday, October 25

The last fall of Sito Miñanco


Madrid

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His criminal record constitutes a sort of index of the history of drug trafficking in Spain since the 1990s. It has fallen several times and the penultimate, very strong: 16 years and 10 months in the shadow by final judgment of the National Court. But Ramón Prado Burgallo has not made himself known around the world under the pseudonym of Sito Miñanco for having reinserted himself. In the final stretch of that pain, in third grade and spending hours in a parking lot in Algeciras, he walked again with his eyes set on the Rías and in the way of transporting tons of cocaine to Spain and other European countries.

In the car in which he has been prosecuted for a string of crimes that again draw a criminal horizon over a decade in jail, Judge María Tardón uses a couple of phrases that define that endeavor. The first one speaks of Miñanco and his “unbreakable criminal will”. He serves the judge, as well as the Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office that has piloted Operation Mito, which will now put him back on the bench, to explain that he should go ahead. While serving his sentence, although the great operation he had in hand ended with a halt to the mother ship that transported 3,300 kilos of cocaine when bordering the Azores.

He had been preparing it for months with his two lieutenants, Luis Enrique García Arango, alias ‘El Viejito’, who also acted as an accountant; and Juan Antonio Fernández, ‘Chus’. They were the top of a pyramid directed with an iron fist – «personalist», the judge would say-, and supported by dozens of soldiers: From those in charge of guarding their backs to those who carried money, suitcase in hand, passing by boat pilots of film, like the «Gran Dama Uno», a gray semi-rigid twelve meters in length with four engines that added 1,400 horsepower power. There are 44 people processed.

Miñanco, which includes wiretaps and meetings in different parts of Spain, even went so far as to supervise a factory in Portugal where floats were made for him. Had to order the return of the gliders, who had gone out to sea without knowing that that ship with a Turkish crew and an Azerbaijani captain had been intercepted with its 165 bundles under the galleys.

But “despite the police intervention and the negative result of this operation, he did not lose heart or give up his endeavor to undertake other drug introduction operations, “says the judge. Furthermore, “he had not lost the trust that his contacts in the substance supply organizations placed in him”. It was Sito Miñanco.

The same did not happen with the second operation attributed to him and for which 615 kilos of cocaine were seized in the Netherlands: «the suppliers of the substance demanded proof that the drug had actually been seized».

Blow to the business network

It was November 2017 and Miñanco did not care, «he continued to maintain different channels open to persevere in operations». He also continued sending money to Colombia in cash and using human mail. And that’s what I was when in February 2018 it was finally detained along with a large part of the organization that he had rebuilt from prison at the age of 63.

But there is something about Operation Myth that the previous ones did not have. Now, the Penal Code it does include the responsibility of companies. Five are on their way to the bench and among them, Inmobiliaria San Saturnino. Managed by his ex-wife, María Rosa Pouso, Convicted in 2012 for money laundering, it had allowed him to “continue to hide the profits resulting from his criminal activity.

Thus, all this time, it has had resources and infrastructure, in addition to that “unbreakable will.” A second sentence from the judge, as an explanation of the effort: “It was that and no other, his only way of life.”

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