Spain Security Threats

Data and information about security threats from Spain’s black market. Intelligence and security information collected from government agencies, news articles and other public data sources.

An investigation by the New York Times found that Al Queada and its affiliates have taken at least $125 million in revenue from kidnapping for ransom since 2008. Roughly half, or $66 Million, was paid out in 2013.

The United States Treasury put the total at $165 million for the same period.

Since 2008, the following countries have paid Al Qaeda the following amounts (given in 2014 US dollars) for releasing kidnapped citizens:

  • France: $58.1 Million
  • Qatar and Oman: $20.4 Million
  • Switzerland: $12.4 Million
  • Spain: $11 Million
  • Austria: $3.2 Million
  • Undetermined Countries: $21.4 Million

Analysis conducted by the NY Times found that 15 percent of hostages that have been taken by Al Qaeda between 2008 and 2014 were executed or died in captivity.

Source: Rukmini Callimachi, “Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror,” New York Times, July 29, 2014

Environmental authorities seized at least 186 tonnes of illegally fished bluefin tuna from the Atlantic in Italy, Spain and Tunisia in 2013, according to statistics released by the Pew Charitable Trust and Fishing boats from Italy accounted for 130 tonnes of the illegally fished tuna.

In an example of the type of smuggling that takes place, security forces in Italy broke up a ring that was smuggling nearly 38 tonnes of tuna that was worth $402,000 (€300,000).

The European Union allows 7,939 tonnes of Atlantic bluefin tuna to be caught each year.

(More illegal fishing statistics.)

Source:  Gwynn Guilford, “200 tons of illegally caught Atlantic bluefin tuna show how we’re driving these fish to extinction,” Quartz, May 30, 2014.

A study on digital content by La Coalicion found that 51 percent of internet users in Spain accessed pirated content in 2013.

84 percent of all digital content, such as movies and music, were illegally consumed in Spain during the year.

43 percent of the internet users who committed online piracy stated that they had either downloaded pirated movies or watched the movie on unlicensed streaming  sites.

The report finds that pirating digital content in Spain causes tax losses of $725 Million and the loss of over 26,000 jobs.

Back in 2012, market research firm Nielsen reported that around 45 percent of all internet pages visited by Spain users had links to pirated music or movies.

Source:  “Half of Spain’s internet users download illegally,” The Local, April 9, 2014.


Criminal justice agencies in Bolivia recorded 35 human trafficking cases back in 2005. In 2012, the number of trafficking cases reported was 456.

In 2013, law enforcement reported 363 human trafficking cases across Bolivia, an increase of over 10 times from 2005.

Despite the number of cases handled by the criminal justice system, reports claim that there has not been a single prosecution conviction for human trafficking crimes.

Most of the victims in Bolivia are between the ages of 12 to 24.  The men who are trafficked are used in forced labor situations, while the women are forced to work as prostitutes. The victims are trafficked to Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Spain.

Source:  Mimi Yagoub, “Human Trafficking Reports in Bolivia Rise 900% in 9 Years,” Insight Crime, April 4, 2014.

In a report by NBC News, an illegal passport broker offered the reporter a genuine passport from Spain that could be obtained by a corrupt official working inside the Spanish embassy. The broker, working in Lima, Peru, offered the genuine Spanish passport for $1,750.

The broker also offered a legitimate looking Peruvian passport for sale for $900.

(More prices of illegal goods and services.)

According to the Secretary General of Interpol, up to 4 out of every 10 international travelers are able to board planes and travel abroad without their passport being checked against the global database of stolen passports.

Source:  Anna Schecter, “Passport Black Market Remains ‘a Gaping Hole’ in Air Security,” NBC News, March 18, 2014.

According to various news reports, a man from Lebanon was offering people up to $55,000 if they were a match for a liver transplant.

The man, reportedly a mayor from a Lebanon city, arraigned for various people to have a liver compatibility test in Valencia, Spain. The tests reportedly cost $16,000 to conduct. After a match was found, the mayor reportedly offered up to $55,000 to the person in order for the liver transplant operation to take place.

Due to the ban on paying for organ transplants, the operation did not take place.

(Additional liver, kidneys and organs trade prices.)

Source:  Al Goodman, “Lebanese mayor arrested in Spain, accused of attempted organ trafficking,” CNN, March 12, 2014.

Police in Spain estimate that there are 12,000 human trafficking victims in the country who are forced to work as prostitutes.

The income that traffickers make from prostituting these victims is reported to be $6 Million a day, or $2.1 Billion a year.

Most of the women are trafficked from Brazil, China, Nigeria, Paraguay and Romania.

Across Europe, there were an estimated 23,632 people who were trafficked between 2008 and 2010, according to the European Commission. Spain had the highest number of victims after Italy.

Source:  Ines Benitez, “Spain grapples with human trafficking,” Al Jazeera, December 26, 2013.

On an average day in 2012, security agents in France seized $400,600 (€300,000) in cash that was being smuggled in order to avoid taxes. The amount seized in France in 2012 ws 50 percent higher than the amount of cash seized daily in 2011. In the first 3 months of 2013, customs agents in France seized $137 Million (€103 Million) in cash.

In Italy, $165 Million in bulk cash was seized at the country’s five main airports in 2012.  In the first nine months of 2013, the security services of Italy were close to passing that figure for the year.

Between January and November 2013, security agents in Spain seized $23 Million (€17.5) Million in cash.

Criminal justice departments across the European Union state that the rise in cash smuggling seizures stems from the crackdown on tax evasion activities. As countries such as Switzerland open up bank accounts to tax investigations, more people are attempting to move their assets by old-fashion means of transporting cash.

According to EU law, a traveler is allowed to carry up to €10,000 in cash.

(More bulk cash smuggling statistics and money laundering cases.)

Source:  Doreen Carvajal and Raphael Minder, “European Borders Tested as Money Is Moved to Shield Wealth,” New York Times, November 3, 2013.

The Justice Minister of Cuba reported that the government convicted 224 people for pimping activities in 2012. Seven individuals were also arrested for abusing minors.

It was previously reported by media outlets that many tourists, particularly from Canada and Spain, travel to Cuba in order to have sex with underage children.

(Prostitution prices worldwide.)

Source:  Juan O. Tamayo, “Cuba’s Justice Minister says the government fights prostitution,” Miami Herald, October 16, 2013.

In the middle of 2013, criminal justice officials in Spain and other countries in Europe have reported an increase in migrants attempting to be smuggled into EU territory. Most of the migrants are departing from Morocco, where the distance to cross over the ocean is just 9 miles to reach the coast of Spain.

Due to the increase in illegal entry, there has been a rise in price for rubber dinghies in Morocco. In Spain, a dinghy costs $109, while in Morocco the cost is $680.

Source:  Raphael Minder and Jim Yardley, “Desperation Fuels Trips of Migrants to Spain,” New York Times, October 4, 2013.