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“We’re hunting Arabs and scumbags”

A neo-Nazi on trial this week was in charge of a youth center funded by the Valencia government

The first session of the trial of 18 neo-Nazis accused of belonging to FAS. Ampliar foto
The first session of the trial of 18 neo-Nazis accused of belonging to FAS. EL PAÍS

On June 30, 2005 Pedro “Lofer” Costa entrusted four boxes of 22-caliber ammunition to a comrade in his neo-Nazi gang Frente Antisistema (FAS, Anti-system Front), according to the Civil Guard. Nine years later, Lofer finally sat down on the bench of the Valencia regional High Court along with 17 other members of the far-right organization. He is thought to be the group’s accountant and part of its leadership.

Until a week-and-a-half ago, the 34-year-old neo-Nazi ran a private center in Valencia that looked after six youngsters, aged between nine and 17, who were at risk of social exclusion. The minors were under the tutelage of the Valencia regional government’s social services department. The non-profit institution has seven employees and last year received part of a €19-million subsidy that the regional government distributed among 20 organizations. Lofer arrived at the association in 2008, when he had already been under official investigation in the so-called Panzer case, which looked into the inner workings of the FAS.

The management of the center discovered the far-right past of its director in February 2013 after seeing his photo in a weekly newspaper. However, it did not dismiss him because of a “lack of funds,” according to a source. At the time the organization was paralyzed by the fact it had not received its payment from the regional government in four months (it is now owed three months’ money). What’s more, Lofer won the favor of his bosses after setting himself up as the organization’s spokesman in demanding the money from the regional administration. “Professionally he has behaved in an excellent manner,” admits a colleague, who also defines Lofer as “clever and manipulating.”

Lofer arrived at the association in 2008, after being under official investigation in the so-called Panzer case

The Valencia regional government is distancing itself from Costa’s hiring. “We watch out to ensure the service is supplied,” says a social services department spokeswoman. “We do not manage labor relations at the centers.”

The state attorney is asking for three years for Lofer for criminal association and illegal possession of firearms. Civil Guards seized a pen gun, a rifle, a knife with a swastika on the handle, and a Power 200 electroshock weapon from his home in Valencia. They also found videos and propaganda about the Nazi genocide.

FAS spread its fervor for the Third Reich online and financed itself by selling weapons. Two members of the military, a Paralympic athlete who competed in Beijing in 2008, a councilor for far-right party España 2000, and a mountaineer also formed part of the “army.” Their motto: betrayal is paid for with death. After analyzing dozens of documents, investigators defined their ideology as “close to terrorism.” The case is expected to be ready for sentencing this week.

The state attorney and the private prosecution brought by a group of eight organizations led by the Movement against Intolerance have centered their case on the house searches and in dozens of hours of recorded telephone calls.

Civil Cuard investigators defined the group’s ideology as “close to terrorism”

In one FAS member Pedro Cuevas, “El Ventosa,” boasts about going out hunting for human targets in August 2005. “I’m carrying a knife. I’m going to hurt them. You have to give it to them good. Leave them reeling…,” he says. His prey were “Arabs” and “scumbags,” which is to say to immigrants, antifascists, Roma and Latin Kings gang members.

Cuevas has been frequenting far-right groups since he was a teenager. He spent four years in jail for killing a young anti-fascist campaigner, Guillem Agulló, in the town of Montanejos (Castellón) in 1993. Within FAS he was in charge of distributing weapons. In the unpublished conversations, to which EL PAÍS has had access, the 43-year-old neo-Nazi is heard offering to supply a gun. He also suggests selling knuckledusters “to kids” and appears to be linked to an assault in Villena, Alicante province, in which a “disgusting punk” received a beating.

The origins of one of the most active neo-Nazi groups lie in a center on Valencia’s Tres Cruces avenue. Between 2003 and the 2005, the Centro Thule financed itself with €40 payments from its members and hosted conferences on firearms and anti-communist rock concerts. FAS venerated the group Batallón de Castigo, whose lead singer Eduardo Clavero is the confessed killer of young Alejandro Arruñada Sánchez at Madrid’s Tribunal Metro station in 1990.

The group was led by Juan Manuel Soria, a 44-year-old tanner. A former candidate for the neo-fascist Alianza Nacional (National Alliance, AN) in Valencia, Soría is now sought by Interpol. His Facebook account is updated on a daily basis from Tangier, where he presents himself as an advisor on foreign trade.

FAS is considered the third-most-active neo-Nazi group after Hammerskin and Blood and Honour. “It was the most important independent organization in Spain,” explains the head of the Movement against Intolerance, Esteban Ibarra. This week the group’s lawyer had a Civil Guard escort around Valencia’s Ciudad de la Justicia courts, where one of the supporters of the accused called him a “a son of a bitch” and a “Jew.”