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The moment a drugs mule realises he’s bust

The first-class passengers were allowed the privilege of disembarking first and passing through the Spanish immigration control well before a similar mad stampede to the one we encountered at Tangiers gushed down the gangway. After completing the formalities, I waited on the quay for the van to be offloaded from the ferry. Getting into the van, I felt at a loss over which direction I should take and drove slowly along the quay, looking for ‘Exit’ signs.

'Am I unique' book coverAs I approached a large hangar-type building, a couple of customs officers appeared as if from nowhere and indicated with much arm-waving that I should drive into the building. Inside the building, I saw more customs officers lounging by a long and low counter; one beckoned me. Driving towards the counter, I cursed my luck at being the first to drive through the customs zone and probably being stopped as a means for them to while away the time. Being in no hurry, I curbed my annoyance and as officialdom possesses the means to ensure the last laugh, decided to adopt a servile attitude.

As soon as I brought the van to a halt, a customs officer opened the cab door, requested my passport and motioned me to get out of the van. I obliged and became extremely perturbed when two more customs officers each grabbed me by an arm and escorted me to an office. When pushed into the office and the door locked, perturbed became an understatement of my actual reaction. Through the office window, I watched as two customs officers wearing overalls entered the rear of the van and unloaded the motorcycles. They each then picked up a crowbar from the counter and re-entered the van. My immediate concern was over the damage they may inflict.

Within a few minutes, they stepped out of the van, each holding a large package which they placed on the counter and re-entered the van. Other customs officers began to rip open the packages and took out what, from where I stood, looked like blocks of dark green soap. The two officers again stepped out of the van carrying similar packages. Staring through the window at the stack of blocks, which with no exaggeration grew larger by the minute, I felt loath to admit that they could only be blocks of hashish.

The cold realisation flashed through my mind of having been duped by Khalid and Mr Tasman. The van’s breakdown must have been arranged as a delaying tactic. We, that is Alan and I, had been used by Mr Tasman and Khalid for what my namesake, the Tangiers bar proprietor, termed ‘mules’, albeit unwittingly on our part. The thought passed through my mind as to the extent of Fatiha’s involvement in the affair. Another of my namesake’s remarks came to mind: “Protected, George, not working with.” His other remarks came to mind: “Whereas the other outfits deal in kilos, the boss of the outfit her father worked for deals in hundredweights.” Together with, “Mind you, these outfits, much to the delight of the Spanish customs, are always shopping each other.” The latter recollection led me to assume Mr Tasman and Khalid, whilst they had duped me, had not necessarily meant to betray me, after all that would not have been in their interests. Some other outfit must have caught wind of what was going on and tipped off the Spanish customs. Pondering over that aspect, it became apparent that the customs officers had not stopped me as part of a random check; they had been waiting for me.

Extracted from Colin Wallace’s fascinating memoir, telling of drugs, the Foreign Legion, and the Algerian war. Buy ‘Am I Unique?’ here.

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