Badajoz: Endesa detects 20 electricity frauds a week due to marijuana plantations

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The National Police intervened 657 marijuana plants in Badajoz last Monday. A drug that was distributed in six homes in the Gurugú neighborhood that were fed by the public lighting network, to provide the plantation with the necessary conditions for its growth.

One more fraud of the many that the distribution company Endesa detects throughout the year.

In fact, in 2023, e-distribución, Endesa’s network subsidiary, dismantled an average of twenty manipulations a week in the province of Badajoz. “Electrical fraud in Spain has increased significantly in recent years and has become a serious problem in some areas,” the electricity company tells HOY.

In this sense, cases of fraud in Badajoz increased by 10.5% compared to those registered in 2022, when 950 cases of electrical manipulation were recorded, compared to the 1,049 registered in 2023.

Frauded energy grew by 49% last year, and that linked to marijuana grew by 287%. In fact, marijuana plantations accounted for 10% of the energy captured illegally last year.

The rest is linked to industrial activity, business and the residential sector.

Meanwhile, the energy that was defrauded last year to allocate to marijuana plantations represented 652,926 kilowatt hours (kwh), 484,108 kilowatts more than those used in the 2022 record, when the figure reached was 168,818, which represents the aforementioned increase of 290% of electrical consumption.

A practice that, according to the general director of Endesa Networks, Manuel Revuelta, “involves a physical risk that can cause the death of those involved or of third parties who have nothing to do with this illegal practice,” he stressed.

In fact, the four men and two women arrested for drug trafficking this week, while growing the 657 marijuana plants in the Gurugú homes, are also charged with crimes of electricity fraud.

Endesa explains that in the fraudulent use of electrical energy used in these plantations, halogen bulbs and transformers are usually used to supply the constant light that the plants need.

An increase in energy that causes losses in the electrical system. Furthermore, the company highlights the deterioration of equipment and quality of supply that occurs in areas where the percentage of fraud is evident. “Lighting and ventilation systems used to accelerate plant growth operate through illegal hookups that wreak havoc on the electrical grid.”

These illegal connections generate overload in the network, which activates the protections of the transformation centers, causing supply interruptions and in some cases causing fires in underground lines or in transformation centers, thus affecting the residents of the area. zone.

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The same thing already happened last year in Seville and Granada, where 14 transformation centers burned due to network overload resulting from fraud.

The owner of the distribution networks estimates that marijuana plantations in Spain consume about 2.2 terawatt hours (TWh), which is equivalent to the electricity consumed by cities like Seville in a year.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, the proliferation of these illegal facilities is controlled by transnational organizations that operate from polycriminal activity. Furthermore, electrical fraud poses a risk for Endesa inspectors and technicians, who carry out their work with police accompaniment and have collaborated with them in the last year in 2,400 operations to dismantle indoor crops. This is what marijuana plantations grown inside buildings are known as.

How to detect fraud

Electrical fraud can be done through direct connection to the public lighting network or through manipulation of meters.

For this reason, Endesa asks that special attention be paid to the electricity consumption indicated on the invoices, since in the event of a sudden increase it is likely to be fraud.

To detect it, the energy company recommends writing down the meter consumption, as well as lowering the leads in the electrical panel of the home or business to cancel any type of electrical consumption.

After several days, the company recommends checking the meter again, and if consumption has increased, contact the distribution company, since it is probably an illegal connection of the electricity.

The penalties for the crime of electrical fraud are high. It can even be associated with prison sentences if the fraud exceeds 400 euros; and the financial penalty ranges from 1,000 to 2,000 euros.

If the financial amount that has been defrauded is unknown, the penalty will correspond to the total of the electrical power contracted for six hours a day in the last year.

A fraud that, in the case of Gurugú, has been detected thanks to citizen collaboration that is done anonymously.

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