About Jimena de la Frontera, the province of Cadiz and Spain as a whole, focused on this small village in the mountains

‘Trapicheo’ as a way to survival

TabacoContrabando(Agencies) Trapichear is translated as ‘to buy and sell stolen/smuggled goods’. And it is on the increase. Small drug deals, bars, shops and otherwise perfectly legal establishments selling smuggled cigarrettes, offering/buying goods at a traffic lights, working and getting paid ‘under the counter’> – once part of the daily scene in Spain, had been if not eradicated, at least diminished considerably. However, all of the above, and more, is rapidly spreading throughout the country, from the Campo de Gibraltar North to Madrid, Seville and Huelva, in particular, and South from Andorra (also tax-free) to Barcelona and the Basque country.

The Campo de Gibraltar has always been prone to smuggling; it is a historical fact that in the past had smugglers held as heroes by the populace because they provided cheaper or unavailable goods. Closeness to ‘tax-free’ Gibraltar is obviously one component at least at local level. (Prospero remembers when smuggling was pretty well limited to tobacco, sugar and cheese – particularly queso de bola, or cheese in a ball, a.k.a. Ementhal, for some reason. How things have changed!)

The president of the Federación de Empresarios del Campo de Gibraltar (FECG), Fernando Gil, says that many people are opting to selling goods or services without paying VAT, as are those who buy or contract them. He also denounces “a certain passivity on th part of the authorities.”

For his part, Francisco Mena, who heads the anti-drug coordination organizations in the Campo, has raised the alarm about a significant increase in small drug deals as a result of the recession. “Many who have become unemployed and used to use cocaine, are now turning to rebujito (a mixture of cocaine and heroin), which is cheaper but will lead them to disaster much sooner,” says Mena, adding that the supply is “increasing every day” thanks to those small deals.

The Guardia Civil has aprehended 875,000 cigarrette packets up to September 1 this year. The figure for the same period last year was 320,000, almost a third. This in turn evidently impacts legal cigarrette sales from the estancos, or tobacconists.

The head of the tobacconists union of the province, Aureliano de Felipe, says that “after setting aside what it costs to keep a shop open, we take home about €17.” He adds that sales in the province of Cádiz “have dropped by 50%, which takes us back to how it was ten years ago.”

De Felipe points out, too,”control over tobacco coming from Gibraltar is minimal” because “extensive frontier controls are impossible when the Foreign Ministry is saying every day that the queues must move faster.”


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