Stephen Burgen in Barcelona
Arrest of Manuel Charlín, 85, reveals resilience of Galicia’s cocaine clans
Released in 2010 after 20 years in prison, the trafficker made a return to notoriety last week
In the 1960s, the smugglers scaled up again, this time into tobacco, initially via Portugal before they cut out the middleman and bought directly from the American tobacco giants.
Tobacco made them millionaires, and soon there was more lucrative work in the rías smuggling tobacco than there was in fisheries. The tobacco was brought in large ships that were unloaded out of sight in the high seas and then brought ashore in launches and fishing boats, a modus operandi that foreshadowed the trade in narcotics.