Category: Military

Latest Gran Canaria News, Views & Sunshine

Illegal Trafficking: President of Gran Canaria “Animal Welfare” Association Investigated for Falsifying Export Certificates and Suspected Mistreatment of Animals

A rogue individual, living on Gran Canaria and operating an unlicensed and unregistered facility supposedly dedicated to animal welfare, has been referred by the Guardia Civil to the Canarian justice system for illegal trafficking and documentary falsification of certificates required for the safe transport of animals into the UK. The operation, she has run for nearly a decade, is suspected of collecting around a quarter of a million euros for this activity in just one 18 month period, keeping large numbers of unregistered animals in inadequate conditions, and illegally transporting animals from the island, without proper zoosanitary checks, across Europe by air, sea and land, destined for recipients in the United Kingdom.

 Between January 2021 and October 2022, the investigated Association irregularly exported 482 dogs to the United Kingdom
 The president of the Association falsified export certificates and presented them to the UK authorities.

Leaked documents raise further concerns about welfare in proposed Las Palmas octopus farm that would be first of its kind in the world

The proposal by Spanish multinational Nueva Pescanova to create the world’s first commercial octopus farm on Gran Canaria has generated a great deal of controversy. The company aims to produce one million octopuses a year for consumption worldwide, three times the number currently caught in the wild by Spanish fisheries. However, the project has been condemned by many scientists who regard the proposed method of killing the octopuses as “cruel”. Confidential documents obtained by the BBC reveal that the creatures would be killed using water as cold as -3°C, which many experts believe would result in a slow and stressful death.


Three Men Detained, without bail, for An Alleged Gang Rape, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Hotel

Three men were arrested and charged with sexual assault after having allegedly gang-raped a young woman in a hotel, in the Santa Catalina area of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Thursday, March 16, 2023. The woman, who is 21 years old, reported the incident at the hotel’s reception, claiming that she had been raped by the men and could not remember anything after accepting a drink from them.


Blood & Gold: The ‘Discoverer’ and the brutality of conquest

Many in Spain celebrate the national day, October 12, as a day for all Spaniards to revel in Spanishness, and remember an empire, replete with displays of military might, with marches and the waving of flags coloured blood and gold.
For many, it is not a day of celebration but a time worth spent remembering countless millions whose lives were so irrevocably affected after the arrival of one lost adventurer, who managed to find a small Bahamian island,  an ocean away from the newly united kingdoms of Spain, and their, just previously acquired, first colonial conquests. 

Seaplane heroes of 43 Group carry out Gran Canaria exercises ahead of the summer heat

Beach users, bathers and holidaymakers, those few, for now, on Gran Canaria’s favourite Maspalomas beach, were treated to an unusual surprise on Monday. Delighted sun seekers unexpectedly witnessed some of the preparatory exercises currently being carried out by the Spanish Air Force heroes who fly the big yellow seaplane of the UME 43 group. These guys became instantly famous, most recently, on the island back in summer 2019, and briefly during February 2020, when they were deployed to help decisively deal with the forest fires we suffered up at the summits of the island. Their training exercises, to make ready for the summer ahead, are flying out of Gando air base, right beside the main commercial airport, until May 20 every morning and afternoon this week.

The exercises themselves are training crews, known as the “corsairs of 43 Group” to better recognise various areas most likely to be endangered by forest fires, as well as the location of resources in the area, as the temperatures start to climb towards our annual summertime highs. For this the crews need to be carry out various tasks including filling the water tanks from the nearest water sources, and understanding the local sea conditions that would allow them to land when necessary. According to the Spanish Air Force, this practice depends very much of the state of the sea, as it can present a lot of added difficulties when compared with reservoirs, lakes and rivers.  As Gran Canaria has relatively few choices for being able to quickly scoop water at speed, these exercises provide vital knowledge and confidence for live deployment situations.
This Canadair CL-215T from the 43rd Air Force Group is currently based at Gando, preparing for the summer campaign ahead. Essential in the fight against mountain forest fires, every year they intensify their preparations as we head into the main season for vigilance.
Between October 1 and June 15, two of these planes, with their crews, are kept active and ready for immediate takeoff from the Torrejón air base, near Madrid in central mainland Spain, where the unit’s main base of operations is located. However, in the so-called summer campaign, between June 15 and September 30, the unit tries to focus their best efforts on maintaining a minimum of 70% of the available aircraft, with their crews, ready to act in any of risk areas of the peninsula and the islands.
The Spanish Air Force #43Group celebrated 50 years since the arrival of the very first CL215s in Spain last February. The first two Canadair landed at Getafe air base on February 8, 1971, having flown from Montreal, on a flight that took 23 hours and 20 minutes in total. Over this aircraft’s 50 years of service to Spain, they have performed almost 185,000 flight hours, of which more than 86,000 correspond to real missions, mainly extinguishing forest fires in Spain and abroad, in support of other nations including Portugal, France, Morocco, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Israel among others.

These iconic airplanes used by this specialist unit could not have carried out such an important range of missions were it not for all the personnel, aircrews and maintenance and support, who have left their mark over this half century trying to ensure that the dangers of the heat and the natural environment do not rage out of control or endanger the population. Heroes every one they are responsible for what is now 43 Group. While the celebrations were marked earlier this year some time was also taken to remember the 15 members of the Spanish Air Force who have given their lives in that time fulfilling this mission. The greatest respect and admiration is due to these rockstars of the skies.
With luck this year will pass without serious incident or the need to call on these majestic seaplanes, who have come to our aid many times over the years on Gran Canaria most notably playing a defining role in putting to an end the devastating fire of August 2019 that destroyed more than 10,000 hectares of wild virgin pine forest and led to almost 10,000 evacuees having to be moved at short notice off the mountains of Gran Canaria.

No todo son aviones ✈️
Detrás de cada vuelo existe un nutrido grupo de magníficos profesionales trabajando #24siete por la defensa de nuestro espacio aéreo y la seguridad de los españoles .
Como nuestros #aviadores del #43grupo, nuestros admirados #corsarios ☠️?.
— Ejército del Aire (@EjercitoAire) May 12, 2021


Western Sahara drone strike allegedly kills head of the Sahrawi National Guard in disputed territory conflict with Morocco

The head of the Sahrawi National Guard, Adah el Bendir, was killed on Thursday afternoon in an alleged Western Sahara drone strike, carried out by Moroccan forces, at a point along the wall built by Rabat, in the disputed and occupied Spanish ex-colony territory, according to an official Sahrawi source reported by EFE.

According to the source, El Bendir “fell as a martyr, and with honour, while fighting the occupying forces in the liberated area of ​​Rouss Irni”, near the city of Tifariti, the Polisario Front main base and centre of military operations.
The officer was “hit by drone fire after leading an incursion through the segregation wall,” the source added. “This is further proof of the intense war in the area and why Morocco is determined to deny it,” said the source, who on other occasions has reported alleged Moroccan casualties, which have never been confirmed or denied by Rabat.
Morocco will neither confirm nor deny this latest information, which adds more uncertainty about what is really happening in the north west African conflict zone, just 100km east of The Canary Islands.
Six Months of Military TensionThe former Spanish colony has been on a war footing since last November 13, after Moroccan armed forces penetrated the Guerguerat pass, which separates Mauritania from the territory, occupied by Morocco in 1975, to remove a large group of Sahrawis who had camped as a protest on the road built by the Moroccans, in contravention of UN restrictions. The protesters were trying to interrupt the transit of goods through the area, which the Polisario denounces as illegal, on the terms of the ceasefire brokered 30 years ago on the premise of a promised and long overdue referendum on self determination for the native Sahrawi population.
Just 24 hours after that offensive, Brahim Ghali, the general secretary of the Polisario Front and president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), the government in exile broadly recognised by dozens of countries including those of the African Union, made clear that this was a violation of the ceasefire and considered the truce signed in 1991 to have been broken.
A day later, he announced a start to military operations along the wall, erected by Morocco in the middle of the desert, which, according to Sahrawi sources, with combat action having been sustained and repeated since then, and which Rabat will not even comment on.
By the end of January, and in the face of stark silence from Morocco, the SADR announced that the Sahrawi Army was preparing to “expand the scope of its military operations, from southern Morocco to southern Western Sahara, to cover all enemy sectors and defences”.
The tensions were added to in recent months by political tension, the result of a decision from the outgoing president of the United States, Trump, to recognise Moroccan sovereignty over the former Spanish colony in exchange for Rabat establishing relations with Israel.
Last month the US 6th fleet aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower took part in military exercises with Morocco in the strip of Atlantic ocean between The Canary Islands archipelago and Morocco’s Port of Agadir, as part of Operation Lightening Handshake.   The Government of Spain have lodged a formal complaint with the United States of America, as they had not been warned in advance that such a large exercise, including air, sea and land forces, was scheduled to occur so close to their island territories. Training in Western Sahara drone strike operations is likely to have been included in these exercises.
If these reports of this Western Sahara drone strike are true, then the drone used in this strike was almost certainly US supplied, as part of the multi-billion dollar arms deals that have continued to embolden Morocco in the region. The Moroccans are seen as a key strategic partner, and forward staging post in the region, for AfriCom, in US Military operations on the African continent.

April 12: – Various sources have cast doubt on whether Morocco currently has lethal drone strike capabilities, pointing instead to the more likely use of high-end military intelligence gathering drones, if a drone was use at all, perhaps to seek out and target El Bendir, allowing more conventional weaponry to actually launch the attack, possibly even from the air by fighter-jet.  The fact is, the facts are sketchy, not all the reports coming out of Western Sahara are reliable, and Morocco refuses to comment or engage in any way regarding the current situation or their conflict with the Polisario Front.
Has Morocco carried out its first drone strike in Western Sahara?


Two separate maritime interventions results in several bales of hashish, potentially up to 10 tonnes, being seized and taken to Gran Canaria

Customs and Guardia Civil over this last week have intercepted up to ten tons of hashish on in two separate operations to inspect and seize a ship that was sailing more than one hundred nautical miles south of Gran Canaria and an inflatable zodiac that was preparing to deliver a cargo of the drug to the islands.

The first intervention occurred last Thursday morning when an aircraft tracking the coast, in search of a suspected migrant boat, located another vessel. Two people were travelling in the inflatable and carrying dozens of bundles that agents suspected to contain drugs.   The boat was sighted about 35 nautical miles south of the island of Gran Canaria and, after being intercepted, its two crew members were arrested.
The action took place during a search for migrant vessels which was underway due to the upturn in arrivals to the Islands over the last few days.
Simultaneously, the Guardia Civil’s System for Integrated External Surveillance (Sistema Integrado de Vigilancia Exterior or SIVE) had reported a suspicious echo just east of Gran Canaria. The Río Tambre, Guardia Civil Maritime Service patrol boat, travelled to intercept the suspected vessel, whose agents boarded the zodiac and moving it to the Arguineguín dock.
The large bales were unloaded at the port, in the municipality of Mogán, yielding a total weight of approximately 1,050 kilos. The two occupants were arrested as suspected perpetrators of a crime against public health, for drug trafficking, according to sources close to the investigation.

Hashish smugglers intercepted
A zodiac carrying more than a 1000kg of hashish was intercepted and brought to the port of Arguineguin on the south of Gran Canaria.
Read More:
Posted by The Canary News on Monday, March 29, 2021

A second operation was carried out by Customs Surveillance over the weekend discovering a “supply type” ship , which was sailing near the Archipelago heading south. Investigators were aware that the vessel could be transporting drugs towards the south of the African continent, suspected to be hashish. And so the patrol boat, Sacre, set course to meet the Albatros, a 27-metre vessel sailing under the Panamanian flag.
The Customs Surveillance Service intercepted the fishing vessel with a cache of hashish that could exceed 18 tons, according to the Tax Agencia, in an operation that had the support of French authorities according to Spain’s State Tax Administration Agency.
Months of monitoring that began in early December 2020 led to the capture of the drug aboard the Panamanian-flagged ship “Albatros Guard” and the arrest of its crew, three men of Ukrainian nationality.
Customs Surveillance agents boarded the vessel located more than 100 miles south of the Islands. The ship was carrying dozens of bundles of hashish between compartments, and so the three crew members were taken into custody. They set course for the port of La Luz, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, where they arrived at around 19:30 yesterday with a “large quantity” of drugs, according to a statement yesterday.
The authorities along with a delegation from the courts plan to go to the Naval Base at the Arsenal of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria this Monday morning to supervise the unloading of the substance and weighing of the haul. A first estimate indicates that the Albatros would be able to transport more than eight tons of hashish, according to sources consulted by Spanish language daily, La Provincia.
This particular vessel had been moored in the main port of the Gran Canaria capital last January, before heading to Nouadhibou, the northernmost coastal city in Mauritania. On Tuesday of last week the Albatros headed north, where it is suspected they loaded the drugs before later changing course to head south, at which point they were intercepted by the Sacre, according to several sources monitoring maritime movements. The Albatros was supposed to be headed for Richard Bay, in South Africa.


The Canary News

US Naval 6th Fleet IKE Strike Group conduct maritime exercises with Morocco in Operation Lightning Handshake

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKE CSG) is participating in Operation Lightning Handshake, a bi-lateral maritime exercise between the U.S. and the Royal Moroccan Navy (RMN) and Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) during the first week of March, which will take place between The Canary Islands coastal waters and Morocco’s Port of Agadir.


“It’s an honour to participate in this historic bi-lateral maritime exercise; hallmarking 200 years of an enduring partnership with Morocco.” – Rear Adm. Robertson

The exercise enhances interoperability between the U.S. and Moroccan Navies across multiple warfare areas, many of which include: surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, air and strike warfare, combined logistics support, maritime interdiction operations.
 “On behalf of the Sailors assigned to the IKE CSG it’s an honor to participate in this historic bi-lateral maritime exercise; hallmarking 200 years of an enduring partnership with Morocco,” said Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, commander, Carrier Strike Group Two. “Exercises like Lighting Handshake enhance the foundation of our interoperability and continued support of our long term commitment to security in the region.”
Lightning Handshake 2021 increases the ability of U.S. and Moroccan maritime forces to work together in order to address security concerns and increase stability in the region.
Participating ships in Lightning Handshake from the IKE CSG, commanded by Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, include flagship USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69); and Destroyer Squadron 22 ships include Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mitscher (DDG 57), and USS Porter (DDG 78).
Aircraft participating in Lightning Handshake include – Squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, embarked on Eisenhower include the “Fighting Swordsmen” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, “Gunslingers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105, “Wildcats” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, “Rampagers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83; “Dusty Dogs” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7; “Swamp Foxes” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74; “Screwtops” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 123; “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130, and a detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 “Rawhides.”
Moroccan assets participating in Lightning Handshake include: Royal Moroccan Navy Frigate Tarnk Ben Ziyad (SIGMA Class Frigate) Royal Naval HQ Maritime Operations Center (MOC) Royal Air Force HQ Air Operations Center (AOC), one Panther Helicopter, and two of each fixed-wing combat F-16 and F-5 fighter aircraft.
USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) participated in the 2018 exercise and included unit events which flexed interoperability between the U.S. and Royal Moroccan Navies in the following warfare areas; communication, link, Anti-Submarine Warfare, close air support and Naval Surface Fire Support.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is a multiplatform team of ships, aircraft and more than 5,000 Sailors, capable of carrying out a wide variety of missions around the globe.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

“Operating from bases at Casablanca, Safi, Agadir, Kenitra, and Tangier, the navy has acquired new equipment designed to expand its operational capabilities. The Moroccan Navy has become a growing and important partner with the U.S. Navy in Europe and Africa and has been a major participant in the U.S. Navy led annual multi-country exercise Phoenix Express, as well as a joint maritime law enforcement operation held in July 2009.
The navy’s responsibilities for coastal protection were significantly broadened in 1973 when Morocco increased the limits of its territorial waters to 70 nautical miles. Further pressures were put upon the service in 1981, when the government adopted an Exclusive Economic Zone and restricted the ability of foreign fishing fleets to operate within 200 nautical miles of Morocco. Since that time the navy has been kept busy patrolling Moroccan waters, and there were numerous reports of Spanish, Portuguese, Soviet, and South Korean trawlers being detained and taken to Moroccan ports for having violated the country’s restrictions on foreign fishing. The navy also has assisted in attempts to stem traffic in contraband and drugs that has moved through Moroccan ports.
On 3 January 1976, the Moroccan Navy stopped a Soviet cargo ship off the Spanish Sahara and found a cargo of arms. In response to the evidence of increased Soviet support for the Polisario rebels, U.S. Navy vessels made three port visits in Morocco during January 1976. The US Secretary of State, with the concurrence of the Department of Defense, decided that a well-publicised U.S. Naval visit to Agadir would be desirable to send a signal to the Soviets in response to the positioning of three Soviet Navy ships in the region. A three-day visit by CG-20 Turner early in February followed.”
—- Global Security
Today the Kingdom of Morocco is a key strategic partner in Africom, the US Military Africa Command and increasingly one of Africa’s largest purchasers of US arms, rivalling Algeria and Saudi Arabia in arms bought over recent years.  The Polisario Front, fighting for the liberation of Western Sahara, declared a resumption of hostilities with Morocco last November following ever more heavy handed tactics deployed against protesters demonstrating Morocco’s continued occupation, resource stripping and illegal road building in the disputed territory, ending a 29-year ceasefire.


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The Canary News, Views & Sunshine - Est. 2009

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