The Civil Guard uncovers a criminal plot dedicated to the use of desalination machines in Campo de Cartagena (Murcia)

So far, 68 people have been investigated for crimes against natural resources and the environment

The agents have inspected 52 agricultural farms and have located and sealed 60 desalination plants and 42 wells

Operation ‘Chancuatro’ is aimed at detecting possible causes of the environmental effects of the Mar Menor

The Civil Guard, within the framework of the ‘Chancuatro’ operation aimed at detecting possible causes of the environmental effects of the Mar Menor, has uncovered a criminal plot dedicated to the use of desalination plants in the Campo de Cartagena region (Murcia).

So far, as the investigation continues, 68 people have been investigated for alleged crimes against natural resources and the environment.

Likewise, the agents have carried out 52 inspections in agricultural farms, in some of which 60 desalination plants and 42 irregular wells have been located and sealed.

After completing the operations 'Chandos' (started in 2019 with 63 people investigated for environmental crimes) and 'Chantres' (developed in 2020 and culminating in the investigation of 23 people), and given the suspicion that these criminal activities could continue, this investigation was started.

The agents obtained abundant documentation, among which is the intervention of an important company dedicated to electrical installations and automation based in the Campo de Cartagena region, which allowed the investigation to be focused on numerous agricultural farms suspected of harboring desalination plants and extraction wells. illegal water.

Once all the evidence had been obtained and analyzed, the Civil Guard launched last February an extensive police device, led by SEPRONA and in which technicians from the Segura Hydrographic Confederation participated, to carry out the inspection of 52 farms agricultural.

During the inspections, 60 desalination plants and 42 water catchment wells with different irregularities were located and their owners were identified.

They hid the machinery underground to avoid its location

Among the located desalobradoras, unique cases have been detected due to the mode of concealment used to avoid their detection. Some of them were installed in cages built underground and camouflaged, and others were in trailers, which facilitated their transport to any point of the farms in an agile way.

In addition, some of the water extraction wells had been equipped with a magnet that altered the results of the volumetric meter, others lacked the aforementioned meter and several lacked the corresponding administrative authorization that proves its legality.

The agents have verified that it was a criminal network orchestrated by a merchant (three of whose perpetrators are part of the 68 people investigated) that offered their services to agricultural entrepreneurs in the Campo de Cartagena region.

They offered desalination plants and products to eliminate salinity from the water, and thus provide farmers with an efficient way to obtain supply for crops by capturing water from the aquifers in the area.

To carry it out, they installed the machinery, generally buried to avoid their location, and were in charge of the maintenance service and supply of the necessary products so that the water captured from the aquifers was filtered and devoid of salinity. Once purified, the rejection –with a high percentage of salt and chemical products– was injected into illegal wells and also discharged through boulevards or brine pipelines that flow into the Mar Menor.

The Civil Guard and the Segura Hydrographic Confederation have sealed the machinery under investigation and have obtained water samples for further analysis.

Crimes against natural resources and the environment

The perpetrators of this type of act may incur a crime, set out in the current Penal Code, which is punishable by imprisonment from six months to two years, a fine of ten to fourteen months and special disqualification for profession or trade for a period of one to two years.

In the event that they could seriously damage the balance of natural systems, the previous figures increase, and the behaviors may be punished with a prison sentence of two to five years, a fine of eight to twenty-four months and special disqualification for their profession or trade for a period of one to three years.

The operation, directed by the Examining Court number 2 of Murcia, has been carried out by agents belonging to the Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) of the Murcia Civil Guard.

For more information, you can contact the Peripheral Communication Office of the Murcia Civil Guard, at 968.242.746.

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