The drug trafficking ex-mayor of the PP who tried to bury a book

Catalan MonitorArticles, News Roundup

Photo: Archive photo of the port of O Grove (Credit: EFE)

By Juan Oliver

A Coruña, 21st February, 2018

It’s like a mantra that no one questions in Galicia and which few dare to publish in black and white, like one of those urban legends with post-truth clothes but a body of journalistic certainty, for which you have no evidence to convince readers and even less to present to a judge with any credibility, so he or she could mandate the revelation of such evidence.

This is the epic story of Alfredo Bea Gondar, the former mayor of the Pontevedra town of O Grove, in the eighties, the factotum years of the Alianza Popular (AP) – later renamed the Popular Party (PP) – in Arousa.  These were convivial times, where the PP was protected by, and offered protection to, Manuel Fraga, who was later sentenced in 2005 for money laundering for a drug trafficking operation. Gondar has recently managed convince a judge to ban a book by a journalist who has dared to reveal all of this epic tale, linking the politician to the narco. 

The book Fariña, by Nacho Carretero, was the subject of a ruling by a court in Collado Villalba, and tells the story of the aforementioned Galician drug trafficker and a number of adventures involving Bea Gondar, who at the time was a politician in the Transition period, one of those involved with the beginnings of the UCD, who grew to regional importance, with him a the head o the Pontevedra party, went independent for awhile, and then returned to the fold of the Popular Alliance of Juan Pardo.

Bea was in trouble right from the start, but at that time it was difficult to hold public office in the region and remain untouched.  Case in point was his Pablo Vioque, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Vilagarcía and one of the main links between the narcos, for whom he acted as a lawyer, and the political and economic elites of Galicia.

In the seventies Bea was already mayor of El Grove, as he called it, in Francoist nomenclature, the small and idyllic municipality-isthmus nestled between beaches south of the river of Arousa. There, just there, in the heart of the centre for drug trafficking to Europe, the place from which the mafias pumped hashish and cocaine all over the continent after a dramatic upgrade to modern logistics over and above the artisanal transport present for the smuggling of American tobacco, it was there, it is said, that Bea Gondar was king, for ears. Especially from 1983 onwards, when he won the municipal elections and regained the mayoral seat which he had lost in 1979.

Even when his dangerous friendships meant some distance was put between him and Fraga’s party, Bea continued to reign. In May of 1991 he returned and won the elections, this time with his Independent Neighbours Group, which took 28.3% of the votes and that left the PP with a terrible result of less than a thousand votes. It was a fleeting joy however, because as soon as the elections were held, Judge Baltasar Garzón ordered his capture, after collecting evidence that he had rented a car in which an email from Colombian drug traffickers was found, with 30 kilos of cocaine in the trunk.

Despite everything, Bea was named mayor a few days later as head f the party with the most votes, because the political groups in the City Council couldn’t agree on a replacement. He couldn’t take up the position though, and once he was already in prison, received news he had been removed from the post.

He incriminated himself during Garzon’s initial setting out of the case against him, but in the subsequent oral hearings he retracted his initial statements and denied everything. Even so, the National Court condemned him, but the Supreme Court restored his freedom and that of his co-accused, José Santórum, thanks to a procedural flaw in the processing of the case.

Bea then lived some years of tranquility, including receiving some recognition and even public honors, such as those awarded to him in 2004 by the then PP mayor of O Grove, Miguel Perez, who paid tribute to him in the luxurious hotel complex of A Toxa, along with other former historic rulers of the town, to commemorate 25 years of democracy with [many of those involved in Garzon’s Operation] Nécoras, albariño [a costly Galician wine] and golden insignia.

Once again the ghost of justice re-appeared in the shape of Baltasar Garzón, to turn those short moments of happiness into ephemeral daydreams. The former mayor and his friend Pablo Vioque were again accused by the judge of collaborating with a group based in to distribute more than 2,000 kilos of cocaine around Spain. The National Court acquitted Vioque, but again ruled against Gondar, this time for money laundering, and sentenced him to three and a half years in prison. Once again there was an appeal, although on this occasion the Supreme Court did not eliminate the sentence, but rather increased it to four years, seven months and fifteen days, considering that the offense was aggravated by the fact that the politician was an active membership of a criminal organization.

Bea Gondar now alleges he is aggrieved by what Carretero has written in his book and considers it an insult that someone remembers those times when getting into “jaleos”, as he did, was not the exception, but the norm. Like other politicians as popular as his colleague Vioque, or as José Ramón Nené Barral, former mayor of Ribadumia and political father of the former president of the Diputación de Pontevedra, Rafael Louzán: or Roberto Vázquez, former mayor of Portas, convicted five years ago for fraud and who today still acts politically as independent councilor to the local government of the PP; or like Manuel Díaz González, mayor of A Guarda, or … Oh, it’s so hard to navigate these memories of a “golden age” wjere drug trafficking in the estuaries coincided with the real estate boom, and the nebulous financing of political parties, and the doubt that the interlinkages of these three business streams was mere coincidence…

That urban legend which recounts that in Galicia there were mayors who sidled up to the capos and even conselleiros who went off with full briefcases every week because the president said that they could not put a stop to the flow of cash from the estuaries, even though they brought with them the smell of cocaine.

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