Seeking: Company with the ability to dismantle and destroy large cannabis plantations. Budget: 163,000 euros. More info: Ministry of the Interior (ask for Fernando Grande-Marlaska).
This announcement, which could well have been published on any employment search website, corresponds to a tender issued by Spain’s Ministry of the Interior, enlisting the help of private companies to dismantle large cannabis plantations, specifically those with more than 10,000 plants, which are on the increase, according to police statistics.
This measure was proposed in the National Plan of Action against organised crime associated with marijuana production and trafficking, presented last December, where the ministry placed the third objective as, precisely, “to facilitate the destruction of marijuana plantations”, with the aim of solving one of the main logistical problems that the Spanish security forces are currently facing, which is none other than the exponential increase in seizures of cannabis plants in a country that leads cannabis production in Europe and where, in 2021, more than three million plants were intervened, representing an increase of almost 100% compared to the previous year.
“In the case of small plantations, the agents themselves take charge of dismantling them, but in the case of large plantations they are unable to carry out said activity” due to the lack of preparation and machinery, indicates the hiring file to which the newspaper El Paísit has had access. For this reason, it is essential to contract this work to private sector companies that have the knowledge and technical means to carry out this task.
Biomass shredders are not enough
Since 2017, the Ministry of the Interior had opted for the purchase of biomass shredding machines, up to a total of 42 in three contracts (for just over 2,500 euros for each machine) to destroy the increasing number of cannabis plants confiscated in anti-drug operations and, thus, triple the existing capacity it had until then to deal with the problems caused by the accumulation of these plants both in police warehouses and in the so-called Regional Custody and Deposit Units (URCD).
The Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office already warned in its last annual report about the important health problems caused by the accumulation of these plants in the warehouses where they are kept until their final destruction. The document from the public ministry also pointed out that the problem would only increase by warning about “the proliferation of cannabis plantations, especially indoors with very sophisticated facilities”, as well as “their progressive development and implementation throughout the territory”.
To solve a problem that, apparently, is too much for the biomass shredders, the Ministry of Interior now plans to spend 163,350 euros on hiring companies capable of destroying the plants, although in the specifications of the tender it is admitted that this budget figure is subject to upward variations, since this estimate of the initial cost has been made in view of the police’s actions in 2021 and, therefore, “is uncertain”.
And so, according to the Ministry of the Interior, the cost of the destruction operations cannot be specified because the police find grows where the plants are in different stages of development (uprooting seedlings a few centimetres tall isn’t the same as trees of two meters) and the locations also pose problems, as they can be found anywhere from easily accessible areas to other more complicated sites, such as ravines or mountains without passable roads.
The Ministry of the Interior also recalls that this lack of specificity in the price is subject to the fact that the work required won’t always be the same, since they will depend on the specific instructions handed out by the judge in each case. Thus, they point out that, in some cases, the judicial authority will order the cutting of cannabis plants and their transfer to a landfill. In others, however, it may be that all the seized cannabis is kept under police custody, so the company must grind up the plants and store them in plastic bags or boxes until their destruction is determined.
A contract focused on four geographical areas
The ministry has divided the contract into four lots corresponding to the areas with the highest number of seizures, the first being the province of Granada (60,500 euros, more than a third of the total contract) followed by those for the provinces of Almería and Murcia (42,350 euros) and Catalonia (36,300). Finally, Madrid and its neighbouring provinces will have an endowment of 24,200 euros, the lowest amount. The duration of the contracts will be one year and the successful bidders will start the destroying plantations on June 1, all of this always under the supervision of the police, from whom they will receive precise instructions on the fate of the plants.
Spain has gone from 724,000 plants seized in 2016 to almost three million in 2021, placing itself at the top of the table in the European Union and doubling the Netherlands. Although our country is still a long way from a country like Turkey, which far exceeds the rest of the European countries in terms of confiscation figures, with more than 42 million plants.
The Prosecutor’s Office highlights that, at present, the time that elapses between the seizure of a consignment of any type of drug and its final destruction ranges between a month and a half and three months. Police sources insist on the need to shorten these terms with cannabis “due to the great problems that its storage causes.”
Initially, biomass shredders seemed to be the best solution, but given the increase in crops and seizures, the Ministry of the Interior has decided to subcontract the destruction service to third parties, in order to increase efficiency in the face of a problem that keeps growing and has overwhelmed the capacities of public officials.
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