Hi! I've made another writeup from a case in Spain, this one is not particularly well known and there's not that much info out there. Also, please remember that English is not my first language, so some sentences may seem weird or off -in such case please feel free to ask for clarification.
Tuesday, November 5th, 2002.
O Carballal, Pontevedra. 7:30 AM
At their luxurious detached house, 43-years old banker Luis Ferreira Pérez
and his family were getting ready for the weekly routine. He would head to his office at a branch of Citibank in Vigo. His wife was a nurse working at the Meixoreiro Hospital, also in the city of Vigo, although that morning she was staying at home. Their two children, a boy and a girl, were getting ready for school. The 12-years old and eldest sibling Óscar Ferreira Dávila
went to open the driveway's gate while his father was in the garage, starting the car.
He then saw the strange object that someone had left in front of the gate.
It was a large, black plastic bag. A bin bag. Attached to a knot at the top there was a large meat hook. This last item made Óscar think that the bag at been left there by his grandfather; he was a butcher, and sometimes he dropped by to give them some waste meat for the family dog. Nevertheless still puzzled, Óscar picked the bag; it was very heavy. He solved to take it to the garage and show it to his father.
Óscar walked into the garage, where his father Luis was starting getting into the car. Then, right when Óscar raised it to take a better look, the bag exploded.
A brutal, deafening noise, followed by an intense gunpowder smell. And an excruciating pain. Both father and son were lying on the garage floor. Luis was screaming in agony. Óscar was unresponsive. There was blood everywhere.
Luis' wife and their daughter were still inside the house when the explosion took place, and they suffered no injuries. His wife rushed to the garage, where she was confronted with a horrific scene; her husband and her son were seriously injured behind a cloud of dense smoke while the sound of the car's alarm system filled the room. However, her training kicked in; she quickly rushed for the first aid kit and first-aid dressings. Her daughter meanwhile dialed 112\
1]). She placed a torniquet on her husband's horrifically injured left leg and fought hard to prevent her son from bleeding to death on the garage floor.
The emergency services rushed Luis and his son Óscar to the Meixoreiro Hospital, the same one where Luis' wife worked at. Once there, and having snapped out of her nursery training, Luis' wife suffered a severe nervous breakdown and was given sedation.
Luis was partially shielded by the car's open door at the moment of the explosion, which reduced the exposed area to his legs. Pieces of shrapnel had done an extensive damage there though, especially to his left leg. Luis' left tibia had been completely shattered, and the bone was visible through the skin. The doctors managed to save his legs in the end, although multiple further surgeries were required before he could walk again.
At the same time, in another emergency surgery room, the young Óscar was fighting for his life. He had been admitted to the emergency room in critical condition; the explosion's blast had caused severe trauma to his abdomen, his chest, and his face. He had suffered a severe intestinal rupture, which caused a massive internal bleeding. The surgeons worked relentlessly during the following hours, racing against time while Óscar's life slipped away along with his blood.
Miraculously, Óscar pulled through and survived the surgery. He also survived his stay at the ICU. Twenty-three days after that fateful November 5th, Óscar was discharged from the hospital. He suffers a permanent loss of sight on his right eye, which had been injured by a piece of shrapnel during the explosion.
Redondela, Pontevedra. 9:15 AM
Some 15 kilometers (9 miles) east from the Ferreira household, and a bit less than two hours later that same day. Vicente Lemos Haya
was 51-years old. He was a high executive at Pescanova S.A. -Spain's largest fishing company, and one of the top 25 fishing companies in the world. He was married to Rosa Gil Blanco
, aged 53, who was a housewife. Thanks to Vicente's position at Pescanova the couple enjoyed an accomodated lifestyle; they lived in a spacious rural detached house, and their 19-years old son was studying at the University of Santiago de Compostela (ranked 5th in Spain). Vicente also used his skills as an accountant to help people with their tax return forms, earning an extra income that way.
That morning Vicente should have left home at 6:00 AM for his morning shift at Pescanova. However, he had switched shifts with a coworker the day before and he wouldn't go to work until the evening that day. Since he had a free morning he decided to accompany his wife to visit her parents, in her car. The old SEAT 600, property of his wife, approached the gate at the end of the driveway.
A black bin bag was hanging from the gate's frame.
Vicente and Rosa exited the car and approached the driveway's gate. They stared at the bag for a while, puzzled. A neighbor of them, a woman, passed nearby at that moment and greeted the couple. She too noticed the strange bag hanging from the gate. During a brief conversation, Vicente mentioned to her that maybe some neighbor had found a lost item of them, but was too shy to bother the couple about it and so left such item hanging there for them to be picked up at the gate. The neighbor said goodbye and walked away.
Nobody knows for sure what exactly happened right after the neighbor left. A few minutes after the woman's departure the whole neighborghood -a peaceful and safe semirural upscale community- what shaken by the thunder of a powerful explosion. The first thought around was that a propane cylinder must have exploded at someone's kitchen (in 2002 Spain a lot of people were still using these), and everyone rushed out of their homes to see what had happened.
Vicente and Rosa were lying on their driveway, next to the gate. Their bodies were bloodied and horribly maimed, and some smoke emanated from their partially charred clothes. Rosa's car had its engine still running idle at the other side of the gate. An ambulance was called, but the paramedics couldn't do anything for Vicente and Rosa; their injuries were just too extensive. The couple was pronounced dead at the scene. 19-years old Vicente Lemos Jr., who at the time of this second explosion was attending his classes at the University, had become an orphan.
Vicente and Rosa's dead bodies lie on the ground, covered by blankets during the initial crime scene investigation; https://i2.wp.com/cronicasnuestrotiempo.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/atentado.jpg?resize=712%2C510&ssl=1
A police officer sets the tape around the crime scene where Vicente and Rosa were murdered. The explosion punched a hole in the gate's bars, which can be clearly appreciated in the picture; https://ep01.epimg.net/politica/imagenes/2018/08/08/cronica_negra/1533726617_240365_1533727706_noticia_normal_recorte1.jpg
A picture of Vicente and Rosa, before their deaths. They were aged 51 and 53 respectively; https://ep01.epimg.net/politica/imagenes/2018/08/08/cronica_negra/1533726617_240365_1533729624_sumario_normal_recorte1.jpg
A LE team with expertise in explosives analyzed both incidents, as well as the remains of the bombs that were hidden inside the bin bags. Both devices were identical, probably crafted by the same person. Although somewhat rudimentary, the bombs had been equiped with an ingenious home-made mechanism.
In each attack the culprit had used a 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) long steel tube as the container for the explosives. The tube -which was believed to originate from a the bumper of an off-road vehicle- had been filled up with a mixture of gunpowder, hundreds of rifle percussion caps and numerous small pieces of junk, the later intended to act as shrapnel. As for the detonator, the culprit had crafted a system using wires, two AAA batteries and a vial filled with mercury. The mercury in the vial, along with the wires and the batteries, acted as a movement sensor that would activate the bomb.
Things became even more strange when the LE team noticed that at the time of the explosions each of the bombs had been contained inside a small wooden box. Surrounding the explosive cylinder, the culrpit had filled the remaining space inside the box with countless newspaper clippings -all of these in Galician language- that ended up dispersed at both bombing scenes. The box had also been filled up with dozens of commercial leaflets from the French car repair and supplies franchise Feu Vert.
The most puzzling piece of evidence was found on the box itself. The culprit had handwritten on both boxes the acronym ALMI
, in capital letters with a pen.
As for the witnesses, some claimed having seen a suspicious man wandering around the attacked houses in the days prior. They described him as around 35-years old. He looked scruffy and carried a gym bag with him. There were also statements about a car accelerating so fast to the point of spinning its wheels the night before in both neighborhoods. Alarmed by the noise, some neighbors peeked out and saw a white car speeding away. Unfortunately they couldn't recognize which brand and model, much less memorizing its license plate.
Initially, the investigators were split in two teams; one would try to trace down all the bombs' components back to the stores where these items may had been purchased and then question the staff. The other team would run background checks on the victims (especially on Luis Ferreira and Vicente Lemos, given their privileged positions). The first team could not find any clue on any store, although they managed to find out that the mercury vials originated from a device that Chrysler cars were equipped with at the time\
2]). The second team got an even more frustrating outcome; after interviewing hundreds of people they could not find anyone who could have been motivated to plan such gruesome attacks on both men and their families.
What is more, the lines of work of both men had never crossed at any point. The families didn't know each other, and there were no known common acquaintances. Since Vigo is one of Spain's biggest drug trafficking hotspots, a possible connection with the organized crime was considered. However, investigators could not find any trace of neither Lemos nor Ferreira even being involved in major illegal activities.
Feu Vert's branches in Galicia were investigated and questioned with scrutinity, but nothing ever came out of these inquires. If the French company was somehow behind these attacks then there was no evidence to support it. As for the ALMI acronym, neither the victims nor the investigators could make any sense out of it.
Map with the attack locations; https://ibb.co/jVf5XqH
The terrorist angle was considered as well during the investigation. However, neither ETA (terrorist organization for Basque Country's independence) nor GRAPO (Galician communist terrorist organization) claimed responsibility for these attacks -which would have been unusual if they had been behind them.
The victims' circles were now the main focus of the investigation. Because of their powerful socioeconomical positions, the possibility that either Lemos, Ferreira or both would have been involved in any illicit activity at Vigo resurfaced. However, that seemed unlikely; Vicente Lemos had worked very hard in his life to reach his goals. He initially quit school at 14 and started working at a gestoría\
3]). Later on, while still employed there he resumed his education, eventually graduating at University with a degree in Accounting. Combined with his work, his new education opened new ways for promotions for him, but Vicente didn't stop there; he attended Industrial Mastery School during the nights (while working full-time during the day), and later on he also earned a degree in Technical Engineering while working at a porcelain factory to complement his education. Vicente's impressive resume eventually granted him his executive position at Pescanova.
Based on the investigation, Vicente Lemos seemed to be a focused and ambitious man. However, he also seemed to be hard-working and honest. At no point the investigation hinted that he may have tried to take any kind of illegal short-cuts. The same counclusions were reached about Luis Ferreira; although not as educated as Vicente was, Luis had worked his way up to become a banker. His current and previous employers had nothing but good things to say about his work ethics. Nothing incriminating was ever found in his past.
Both Vicente Lemos and Luis Ferreira had paid for their houses through a mortgage. As for their credit records, nothing amiss was ever found.
Three hitmen, a Portuguese businessman, a fingerprint and more questions
With the investigation threatening to stall due to the lack of possible leads, the investigators considered the possibility of a personal vendetta. However, neither the Ferreira family nor Vicente Lemos Jr. recalled anyone having threatened them\
4]), nor did their friends or coworkers. With such a frustrating lack of motive, the investigators even considered -and, in fact, to this day they have never disregarded- the possibility that the culprit was a rogue psychopath whose aim was to harm innocent people for their own reasons. Since the victims enjoyed a comfortable socioeconomical position, a twisted sense of entitlement or social justice was thought to be a possible motive. In this scenario, the culprit may have felt wronged -rightfully or not- by people belonging to such demographic in the past, and this could have been a way to get back at their perceived enemy.
After a week, the investigators finally found something to hold onto. A person of interest -who was put into the Witness Protection Program- pointed the investigation towards a man named Francisco Manuel Rial González
. According to the witness, Rial -known by LE for being a dangerous hitman involved in the local drug trafficking scene- had allegedly mentioned to two of his henchmen about attacking Luis Ferreira (apparently, the witness had eavesdropped the conversation at a bar). LE eventually secured a search warrant for Rial's residence, where steel tubes similar to the ones used to make the bombs were found -as well as 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine. Rial was subsequently arrested as a suspect, and so were the two henchmen that the witness put in the bar that day.
After 48 hours in custody, Rial's henchmen were released (on probation) once they had made their official statement before a judge. However, Rial was put in preventive prison. It's worth noting that, while the two henchmen had been granted a public defense attorney each, Rial requested to call his own lawyer.
The victims were shown the detainees' pictures, as well as told their names. However, neither the Ferreira family, nor Vicente and Rosa's family could recognize any of the three, much less having ever interacted with them. A version which Rial himself, of course, agreed with.LE decided to focus on Rial, since he was so far the main suspect of the investigation. He was a long-time known criminal, with a myriad of charges in his record, as well has having already served time in prison before. Because of his lengthy criminal career, Rial was aquaintanced with other local criminals, some of them very powerful. They found out that Rial had worked as a bouncer at a hostess club in May of 2002\
5]). The club was open for just seventeen days. According to Rial himself, 'it closed due to lack of clientele, and the girls figured out that they could make more money somewhere else'.
The man behind that failed hostess-club -who hired Rial personally- was a 38-years old Portuguese citizen named Alípio Fernandes Martins
. Just like Rial, Martins wasn't unknown for Vigo's LE, although Martins was a criminal several steps higher in the game than Rial. At the time of these events, Martins owned a group of freezing products company at the port of Vigo. However, he was involved in numerous shady business. In March of 2001 Martins had been arrested for financial fraud on over 200 business across Spain. Martins would contact the victims, always introducing himself under a fake ID. He'd make sure to earn these companies' trust (by posing as a reliable potential business partner; good formal attire, expensive car, fake business ID cards, etc). Once the foot was on the door, he'd propose to act as an intermediary and distributor. First he'd purchase a few small batches, whose profits he'd make sure to return quickly to the supplier. However, once trust had been earned, Martins would step up the game and order a much larger (wholesale) batch... which he'd sell on the black market, after which he'd disappear. To make things worse, these wholesale buys were paid with promissory notes at the fake ID' name. When the victim initiated an investigation it'd turn out that the true ID belonged to (oblivious) already bankrupt business owners that were insolvent, leading the investigation to a dead end. And so that untaxed money could not be traced anymore\
For these schemes, Martins was still facing trial as for November of 2002. His wife, his younger brother, his accountant and one of his business' partners were processed too for suspected involvement.
A picture of Alípio Fernandes Martins in 2008, being arrested for an unrelated crime; https://www.elcorreogallego.es/img/noticias/20081124/cp14f03269331_197353.jpg?width=1200&enable=upscale
What is more; in 1995 Martins had been involved in a botched attempt to blow up a cold store in order to commit insurance fraud in Castellón, Valencia -some 800 kilometers (500 miles) east from Vigo. The cold store owner could not pay Martins the money he owed him, so the Portuguese man proposed to put explosives inside and blow it up. The store was insured, and so they'd collect the insurance money and Martins would get his money back. LE managed to arrest them before they could carry on the plan.
It seemed that they already had a very solid suspect. There were some things that didn't match though;
- Besides these steel tubes, no other evidence was collected from Rial -including no explosives.
- The surviving victims did not recognize either Rial or Martins. The families of Vicente Lemos and Rosa Gil did not recognize the suspects either.
- There seems to be no motive at all.
- The ALMI acronym was still a mystery.
- While Martins had been involved in a bombing attempt in the past, the mechanism of such bomb was way different -it was basically 200 kg (440 lbs) of gelignite packs that would be detonated from distance through a wire.
- Speaking of the 1995 bomb attempt, Martins had no intention of killing anyone with it. On the other hand, the person who put the bin bag bombs clearly intended to kill/hurt people.
- Rial was a hitman, not a serial killer. There was no apparent financial gain for him in these attacks.
At some point later, the forensic lab found a silver lightning that could help solving the case; a fingerprint had been found in the remains of one of the bombs. Even though that the evidence that the investigators had so far was rather weak, a figerprint could put them in the right track to bring the suspects to court with murder and assault charges. But all they got were further questions.
The fingerprint was analyzed and compared to the suspects. First, to Rial and his henchmen. No match. It didn't match Martins either. The analysis was extended to other known criminals within the suspects's circle, but again no match at all. The same was tried with the victims with the victims, getting the same results. And finally, the fingerprint was compared to the entire National Database; zero results yielded.
Which meant that the person which that fingerprint belonged to had never been arrested in their life. At least not in Spain.
The investigation had reached another dead end. That fingerprint was the most solid proof found, and there was no suspect at all to match it with.
In May of 2003, Francisco Rial was released on probation from preventive jail. The judge that took the case ruled that these steel tubes wasn't a proof solid enough to process him for the charges. It's not clear what kind of legal repercussions he faced for the cocaine posession (no further info on the net). Rial had spent 6 months in preventive prison related to this case.
The case has been inactive since June of 2005 due to lack of further evidence. Unless new evidence is presented, the case will expire due to statute of limitations in November 5th, 2022.
Alípio Martins has been arrested numerous times ever since for embezzlement, tax evasion, theft and financial fraud. He has never been processed for the bomb attacks.
Some of the investigators involved in the case still believe that Alípio Martins was the man responsible for the attacks, via Rial. However, they have never been able to gather evidence to sustain an investigation on him, much less to make an arrest. They believe that Luis Ferreira had been the target all along, and that the attack on Vicente Lemos and Rosa Gil had been just a diverting maneuver.
The Feu Vert commercial leaflets are considered to be an intentional red herring set by the culprit. The auto-repair company is not believed to be behind the attacks in any way or form.
To this day, the meaning behind the acronym ALMI
found on the bombs remains a mystery.
Luis Ferreira and Ramón Lemos (Vicente Lemos' brother) initiated a campaign to pressure authorities into investigating the case further. Jaded after seeing that the case was not moving forward, Ferreira quit the campaign in 2008. He no longer works as a banker. Instead, he opened a restaurant in Vimianzo named 'A Lagoa' (Galician for 'The Lake'). He also collects and restores classic luxury cars, especially Mercedes.
To this day Ramón Lemos continues his campaign and fights to find who killed his brother and his sister-in-law.
Luis Ferreira with his son Óscar, a few years after both survived the bomb attack; https://cflvdg.avoz.es/sc/980x//default/2002/11/14/0012_1001532/Foto/g15p20f1.jpg
Luis Ferreira with one of the classic Mercedes cars he restored himself, in 2014; https://cflvdg.avoz.es/sc/1mBT04KO2cVgnuDrpcym1JzndZ8=/x/2014/03/24/00121395693901382120231/Foto/.jpg
112 is the emergency phone number in all of EU countries, akin to 911 in the US
 In the sources it's not clear if they're referring to cars sold under the Chrysler brand itself or, on the other hand, to cars sold under any of the brands that the Chrysler Group owned at the time -i.e. Jeep, Daimler, Dodge, etc.
 In Spain, a 'gestoría' is a private business specialized in dealing with administrative and/or legal paperwork for third parties.
 One of the sources mentions that Luis Ferreira had been threatened a few months prior, but it doesn't provide further details. The rest of the sources say that there hadn't been such threats to any party involved in this case
 Strip-clubs/hostess clubs and prostitution are legal in Spain. Public solicitation and brothels however are not. Hostess clubs often act as a legal cover for running a brothel.
 In Spain this type of fraud is known as 'the Nazarene's scam'. I ignore how it'd be called in English or any other language Sources (Spanish) https://elpais.com/politica/2018/08/08/cronica_negra/1533726617_240365.html https://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/galicia/2004/06/19/buscan-empresario-portugues-presunto-inductor-bombas-vigo/0003_2784348.htm https://extraconfidencial.com/noticias/hace-12-anos-dos-bombas-mataban-en-vigo-a-un-matrimonio-y-herian-de-gravedad-a-un-padre-y-su-hijo/ https://elpais.com/diario/2002/11/06/espana/1036537201_850215.html https://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/sociedad/2014/03/25/mercedes-menu/0003_201403G25P28994.htm https://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/galicia/2002/11/05/descartan-bombas-vigo-sean-terrorismo-ajuste-cuentas/0003_1309088.htm https://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/vigo/vigo/2002/11/14/victimas-cabral-conocen-detenidos-bolsas-trampa/0003_1323202.htm https://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/galicia/2004/06/19/buscan-empresario-portugues-presunto-inductor-bombas-vigo/0003_2784348.htm