Catalonia: Squatters, Eviction and Extortion

Spain has a history of squatting. After the property crash of 2008 many families were forced to occupy homes that did not belong to them because they could not pay their mortgages. Now a darker side to ‘okupacion’ has emerged. Organised crime has seen an opportunity. Some flats in Barcelona have become ‘narcopisos’ - properties used to process or sell drugs. Other empty properties have been ‘sub-let’ by gangs to families who cannot afford a commercial rent. And the pandemic has spawned a new commercial model – extortion. These are cases where squatters occupy a property and demand a ‘ransom’ from the owner of several thousand Euros before they will leave. Enter the controversial ‘desokupa’ companies – firms run by boxers and bouncers who will evict unwanted 'tenants'.

Producer / Presenter: Linda Pressly
Producer / Presenter in Spain: Esperanza Escribano
Editor: Bridget Harney

(Image: Jorge Fe, director of FueraOkupas – a company dedicated to evicting squatters and unwanted tenants. Credit: BBC/Esperanza Escribano)