• Police Seize 55,000 Laughing Gas Canisters in San Antonio
  • 55,000 Nitrous Oxide Laughing Gas Canisters Have A Street Value of Around 800,000€

Details of the seizures were announced in a report issued by the High Command of the Civil Guard of the Baleàric Islands.

The Civil Guard said they were responding to a situation of “social alarm” in San Antonio.

They raided 5 properties around San Antonio and the Bay, from which they seized 55,000 laughing gas canisters, 400 dispensers and 21,000 balloons (used for the inhalation of the gas). Police put a street value of 800,000€ of the seized items.

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Serious

The Guardia Civil stated that they were taking the problem very seriously and had already arrested 30 people in connection with the sale of laughing gas this year.

They referred to the arrest and imprisonment of two men for selling laughing gas last year. The two men, both of Senegalise nationality, were sentenced to the minimum term of six months in prison, reduced to four months reflecting their admission of the crime and guilty plea.

In addition, both men were fined 600€

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Editorial Comment

I am not saying that there are any easy answers to the problem of illegal street sellers, whether they are selling fake sunglasses or laughing gas, but it is worth remembering that the Senegalese men fined 600€ have no permission to work legally in Spain – so what do you think they did to earn the money to pay the fine? What else could they do to earn the money to pay the fine?

The fact that the Spanish legal system had these men in custody and ultimately released them back into society says a lot. It confirms that there is no political will to deport illegal immigrants.

The fact that the Spanish legal system fined these men 600€ when it knows full well they have no legal means of earning the 600€ to pay that fine also says a lot. It confirms that ‘the system’ is fully aware of and compliant in the impossible situation with the street sellers.

There is no political will to deport the illegal immigrants. There is no legal way for them to work. When you consider these two facts the problem is obvious.

We are not condoning the way they chose to earn their money, but without any legal alternative available, it is difficult to condemn them either.

The only way to break the illegal street selling impasse is to offer some legal alternative. Would they take it? I don’t know. My feeling is that some would and some wouldn’t. But surely we have to try something?

Put it this way, if there was a legal alternative open to them, this type of sting may ultimately have some effect. Pile on the pressure, make it really difficult to operate, and in time they may all go for the legal alternative. But as it stands it does not matter how hard that pressure is applied. It does not matter how many stings there are. Tomorrow they will all be back at it – because the street sellers have no choice.

You could imprison them for 5 years, fine them 50k, there is zero possibility of any penalty having any deterrent effect – because the street sellers have no choice.

The Police really are in an impossible situation. They can arrest the street sellers as many times as you want – and ultimately that is what it tends to boil down to – whenever public outrage (especially among the native Spanish majority) reaches a certain fever pitch, they will mount an operation, make a few arrests etc. But they know the outcome before they start. They take up Police and Judiciary resources to process the criminals, but for what? The Police know that whatever punishment is delivered, the people will be back on the streets with no alternative to return to doing exactly what they were doing to get arrested, and ironically they will be clutching a court ordered mandate to go and do more crime to pay their fine  – because the street sellers have no choice, and in this ridiculous merry-go-round, the police also have no choice.

There is no political will to deport the illegal immigrants. There is no legal way for them to work. When you consider these two facts the problem is obvious. We are back to where we started – and that just about sums it up.