The ‘mojiteros’ – illegal beach cocktail sellers, along with the pea men should be avoided at all costs here in Benidorm. Now thankfully there is one less gang after the National Police in Benidorm arrested five members of a gang that operated the pea game, fleecing holidaymakers out of thousands of euros every day.
However, until a change in the law takes place, it is technically classified as a ‘misdemeanour’ here rather than a crime if less than €400 is involved. There are constant reminders not to stop and engage, especially on social media forums but sadly, reports surface daily of yet more fresh victims. The signs along the beach have a small reference to them, but how many people actually stop to read them is another story.
Shockingly, a British holidaymaker was beaten up by a pea gang outside the Indoor Market for trying to warning people not to take part a few days ago. The gang set upon him, kicking, punching and hitting him with a wooden bat. He received a deep gash to the back of the head and was advised by the police to seek medical attention and file an official report of assault - a denuncia at the SATE office.
However, he was followed to the health centre by the gang and felt too intimidated to then go to the police and said that he really did not want to face them in court again – so the likelihood is they will go unpunished despite much of the attack being recorded and uploaded to social media. Surely that is evidence enough for the police to act?
The three men two women gang arrested by the National Police - NOt to do with the assault are aged between 32 and 63 years and of Spanish and Austrian nationality, who between them had already been arrested more than 60 times. Following an undercover operation, they were bought before a judge, where four have been issued an injunction to prohibit them entering certain parts of Benidorm with high volumes of holidaymakers – always their intended victims.
Sometimes also referred to as the potato men they should be given a very wide berth. Always operating in gangs, usually on busy thoroughfares such as the Levante promenade, on the Avenida Mediterraneo, outside the Indoor Markets and on market days, they entice people to stop by shouting and cheering, waving a €50 note that they had supposedly just won by guessing which potato half the pea was hidden under, hence the name.
However, the crowd are actually all members of the gang. They also have look outs, positioned on street corners looking out for the police, whistling when they see a car approaching and disband. But as soon as they have passed they quickly reassemble back again. It is very much a game of cat and mouse and all nationalities fall victim to this scam, not just the British.
If you see a group of people around a cardboard box with 3 potato halves, just walk on by without stopping. Members of the gang will also take the opportunity of dipping your wallets whilst you are engrossed watching – so don’t become another victim!