By John Ensor •
Published: 04 Nov 2023 • 11:55
Laboratory used for homemade explosives.
In a recent operation, authorities have arrested two individuals in Murcia for making homemade explosives.
A report published on Saturday, November 4, detailed how the events unfolded in the middle of the year. Following an alert from the Intelligence Centre against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO), two separate individuals living in different towns in Murcia had purchased suspicious materials.
The investigation began when the Guardia Civil’s Information Headquarters was informed by CITCO of the purchase of potentially explosive elements. Certain chemical substances can create homemade explosives when mixed in certain concentrations or with other chemicals, hence their sale and use are strictly monitored.
The rigorous control over the trade and use of explosive precursors stems from their potential misuse. To mitigate this risk, the Guardia Civil launches regular information campaigns aimed at businesses which deal with particular materials.
These initiatives are aimed at encouraging the reporting of dubious purchase attempts. It was thanks to these efforts that the ensuing investigation was triggered.
Experts from the Information Headquarters identified the two suspects, who were living in different localities and were unrelated to each other.
In both cases, the two individuals under investigation had also acquired included not only the explosive precursors but also various other chemicals, fuses, professional laboratory equipment, and electronic components for bomb-making.
After a thorough investigation and background checks, no connections to terrorist or radical groups were established. The arrests were ordered once the locations for suspected illicit explosive production and storage were identified.
Authorities confiscated over 700 grams of homemade gunpowder, 15.5 kilograms of precursor substances, and remnants of an already detonated ‘pipe bomb’. The seized equipment included laboratory apparatus and electronics for remote-detonation mechanisms.
One suspect claimed to have employed a ‘pipe bomb’ to deter thieves at a remote property in an area which had suffered a number of burglaries.
The trade, acquisition, possession and use of the chemical precursors of explosives has been restricted and regulated for years in both Spain and the European Union to prevent their misuse for illegal, violent or terrorist purposes. In order to buy such substances in Spain it is necessary to obtain a license from the Ministry of the Interior through CITCO.
In 2022 alone, the Guardia Civil scrutinised over 396 precursor license applications and conducted 59 inspections to prevent the misuse of these substances for illegal purposes. Authorities also carried out investigations regarding another 31 suspicious transactions.
In one notable case in March 2023, a secret laboratory was dismantled in Montmajor, Barcelona, which was set up to produce explosives. It was the largest seizure of explosives precursors made so far in Spain, almost half a ton of these substances were seized, with which the individual would have tried to make explosives as dangerous as TATP (called by jihadist terrorists as ‘the mother of satan’, chloratite or gunpowder.
The joint efforts of the Guardia Civil’s Information Headquarters and Murcia’s Information Group, supported by Alicante’s GEDEX and the Cynological Service (dogs trained to detect explosives), has ensured the safety of local residents and stopped the potential black market circulation of these dangerous substances.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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