A family affair in El Ejido

The twenty people arrested yesterday in El Ejido’s corruption sting by a Madrid judge -investigation ongoing since 2007, it seems- all spent a cosy night together in jail.

They were arrested in El Ejido, Seville and Madrid – and all seem to be family. Basically, it’s the:

-Mayor (Juan Enciso, the man who bankrupted El Ejido), his wife and daughter;

-José Aléman, the Interventor Municipal, (city auditor), and his wife (they got married in the Madrid Ritz in what La Voz calls a “glam wedding”), José’s brother and wife;

-Jesús Aragón, boss of several companies

-Ambrioso Cuevas, boss of several companies, his best friend Juan Antonio Galán Eslava, Juan’s wife and his daughter;

-José Amate Rueda, ex boss of Elsur (now boss of other municipal companies) with his wife along his son, two daughters and their husbands.

The scam, which El País says netted around 150 million euros over the last six years seems to be paying municipal funds for false contracts and pocketing the cash. Nice and neat. Codeword is: Operacion Poniente.

The PAL have been thrown out of the Diputación (county council) after the PSOE broke the coalition they had with them. Much shock, horror and the usual hand wringing from all sides.

About 60 National Police sealed off the townhall, twenty homes and 12 companies yesterday, while investigators from Madrid, accompanied by tax inspectors, seized documents and computers. Everything is being shipped to Madrid on orders of the Judge. Wire taps on people’s phones have been ongoing most of the year it seems, the investigation started in early 2007. This could roll on for years, although I expect Enciso will be out back running the place in a few days – he’s been running El Ejido since 1991 and the Spanish have a relaxed attitude towards corrupt public officials (the attitude isn’t so much why did he do it?, rather bloody idiot got careless).

Enciso, despite having stellar election results every year, is Not Liked – socialist newspapers across the board are unanimous in remembering him as a “brute – even ill educated” (El País). Who also remember how in El Ejido’s race riots he “ecohed the racist and xenophobic remarks by white farm owners in the area”.

I did enjoy this opinion quote in La Voz: Enciso, possibly with his head in his hands, must be remembering when he was no more than a simple young reseller of second rate fruit and veg.

Or this one: Municipal cleaners outside [the townhall] did not know if they were to sweep up the cigarette butts or the footsteps of fear marked on the pavement outside.

I’m told several other nearby cities had a marathon shredding of paperwork session last night….

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