How Spanish Police Spy on Anti-Capitalist Organizations


In May 2020, the Spanish government announced the end of the COVID-19 lockdown. In response, radical left-wing groups in the state of Catalonia organized various actions under the campaign “Life Before Capital.” Their demands focused on the right to housing, an end to repression and social control, and other social measures. A young man named Marc, newly arrived from Mallorca, appeared at a rally in Barcelona on June 2, 2020 which was organized by different anti-capitalist groups. He began to integrate himself into various groups involved in these actions and the social fabric of the city, forming relationships with activists, most of whom were university students.

His real name was Ignacio José Enseñat Guerra, and he was not a university student as he claimed, but rather an undercover agent of the Spanish National Police. His real identity was revealed two years later by the Catalan newspaper Directa after an investigation that uncovered the first of many recent cases of police infiltration into radical left-wing organizations. Enseñat had been involved for two years in student groups supporting Catalonia’s independence, neighborhood organizations advocating for the right to housing, and a left-wing student union at the University of Barcelona, where he was also enrolled under the false identity of Marc Hernàndez Pon.

Prior to infiltrating these groups as a police officer, Enseñat had received a degree in criminology in 2014. In April 206, he joined the police academy and became a career officer in the National Police Corps in 2019. A few months later, he started creating his fake persona on social media using the false identity he would maintain during his infiltration in the Catalan left. He later moved to Barcelona and targeted specific groups and organizations. During his two years infiltrating various anti-capitalist and pro-independence organizations, he participated in numerous assemblies and protest actions. His rented apartment in the old quarter of Barcelona which had served as a meeting place for other activists on several occasions.

Deceptive Sexual Relationships

Several months later, in January 2023, Directa published new information about another police infiltration. This instance involved a man who also arrived in Barcelona during the same period as the aforementioned officer but was 31 years old, slightly older than Enseñat. He integrated himself at a popular gym, La Cinétika, a self-managed anti-capitalist space in the Sant Andreu neighborhood. He went by the name Daniel Hernàndez Pons, using the same last names as Enseñat. He also claimed to come from Palma de Mallorca. His real name was Daniel Hermoso Pérez, and he had graduated from the police academy in 2019. He began infiltrating left-wing movements in coordination with “Marc,” but focused on spaces more related to anarchism and anti-repression.

Hermoso’s case had a significant media impact in Spain because Directa’s exposure was accompanied by allegations from several activists that he had manipulated them sexually to obtain information and gain access to various leftist spaces. Eight women filed a complaint in court shortly afterward, accusing him of torture, discovery and disclosure of secrets, police mistreatment with a sexual component, and, according to their lawyers, “violating their rights to privacy, private life, freedom of association and assembly, and freedom of expression.”

Similar events have transpired in the United Kingdom where it was revealed that since 1968 at least 139 British officers used false identities, some of dead children, to infiltrate various political movements. In many of these operations, all authorized by London police headquarters, the officers also used sexual relationships to obtain information or access different groups, with several even fathering children.

The legal precedent for the Catalan activists demanding accountability from the state was the 2021 case of Kate Wilson. Wilson was an environmental activist who had a nearly decade-long relationship with undercover police officer Mark Kennedy between 2001 and 2010. In this case, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which investigates abuses by British public bodies, ordered the police, Scotland Yard, and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) to pay Wilson £229,000. However, in October 2023, the judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by the eight Catalan activists.

The Spy’s Mother

In July 2023, Directa exposed the third case police infiltration in Catalonia. This time it was a woman, Maria Isern Torres, around 30 years old and part of the 33rd promotion of the Spanish National Police Corps. She had studied at the police academy in Ávila with the other two exposed agents (Marc and Dani) between 2017 and 2018. Maria, who had already earned a degree in criminology from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona between 2012 and 2015, enrolled in a Social Education degree at the University of Girona with false documentation provided by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior, just like her colleagues. She began her approach to social movements in June 2020 through the “Locked Down for Rights” initiative, a protest action at the university in support of migrants and unaccompanied migrant minors in vulnerable situations.

Maria attended multiple assemblies and had access to key political spaces in Girona. Some  meetings even included lawyers dedicated to preparing anti-repression strategies and legal defense for various activists. The undercover police officer lived with her victim, a well-known pro-independence and anti-fascist activist in the city facing legal proceedings. She pretended to be in a romantic relationship with this activist in order to provide key information to the police. She even spent a weekend with his family in Palma de Mallorca, where she claimed to be from, like the other exposed agents. Maria had the complicity of her mother, who hosted them in her real home, knowing about her daughter’s infiltration work. Once the case was uncovered, activists responded by publishing the true identities of her mother and brother, who is also a police officer in the Balearic Islands and a regular participant in far-right events.

More Cases Uncovered in Valencia and Madrid

The state invested significant political, judicial, and police efforts to suppress the pro-independence movement, something that did not stop after the 2017 referendum, and even now, several cases against pro-independence activists, some accused of terrorism, remain open. Additionally, Catalonia has always been a territory with an extensive network of radical left-wing social movements. It was not coincidental that the Spanish police invested special efforts there, carrying out all these infiltrations uncovered so far.

However, it was not only in Catalonia where infiltrated police officers were discovered in recent years. In February 2023, Directa uncovered another undercover agent in the radical left-wing and neighborhood movements against real estate speculation, this time in Valencia. The agent, Ramón Muñoz Hernández, was involved in several campaigns in the Benimaclet neighborhood, known for its strong support of and links with left-wing organizing. Muñoz integrated into some neighborhood assemblies that were preparing actions against the planned elimination of a plot of urban gardens and a squatters social center. He also tried to join the city’s anti-fascist collective and, although he participated in a protest, he did not go further due to the distrust he generated among several people he tried to befriend.

Like the other exposed officers in Catalonia, Muñoz was part of the same state operation to infiltrate left-wing groups. But the strategy of police infiltration in left-wing groups has a long history and extends throughout Spain. In 2023, the newspaper El Salto also uncovered the identities of two other police officers who had posed as activists for years and were involved in various social movements. The first was Mavi, a police officer who began her infiltration work in 2022, a few years after the infiltration cases in Valencia and Catalonia. After approaching an occupation of the La Animosa social support center in the Madrid neighborhood of Hortaleza, she immediately started training in its popular gym, where free martial arts classes and training are offered. But soon she aroused suspicion.

Mavi also approached the environmental groups Extinction Rebellion and Futuro Vegetal, which were starting to carry out peaceful actions with some media impact. There, she kept a low profile but also established sexual relationships with some activists as a strategy to gain their trust and access to more activist spaces. However, her lack of political training, her prior knowledge of martial arts, and several gaps and contradictions in her persona led activists to activate a protocol to determine if she was an infiltrated agent. Shortly afterward, the activists along with journalists from El Salto were able to confirm that this was indeed the case.

A few months later, in September 2023, El Salto discovered another infiltrated agent in Madrid. He went by the name Sergio Botana and had infiltrated in the capital’s social movements in 2015, a few months after graduating from the police academy. He began frequenting a food bank in the Moratalaz neighborhood to get closer to neighborhood groups, especially Distrito 14, with whom he participated in civil disobedience actions. Sergio even traveled to Barcelona in 2017 to participate in the defense of the Catalan independence referendum. Later, after gradually withdrawing from Distrito 14, he started integrating into the Madrid Anti-Repression Movement (MAR), which became very active after the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasel. The police officer, whose real name is Sergio Gigirey Amado, participated in their assemblies and also established sexual relationships and friendships with some of its members who reported the case to the media.

In 2024, more infiltration cases in Madrid were uncovered. Maria Peres, another National Police officer, according to, infiltrated MAR and Distrito 104 between May 2020 and autumn 2023. Distrito 104 is a collective in the Aluche neighborhood. Her former colleagues placed her in various protest actions and social spaces in the city, but her lack of political training, her willingness to participate in everything, and her knowledge of martial arts raised some alarms.

The latest exposed police infiltrator was Juancar, also in Madrid, and was revealed by the newspaper El Salto in May 2024. His first contact with social movements was through a martial arts school in the Vallecas neighborhood in 2020 and later in the Distrito 14 collective in the Moratalaz neighborhood, like the other exposed officer, Sergio Gigirey. Under the false identity of a student, Juancar spent two years frequenting left-wing gatherings in Madrid and participating in some protest actions until he suspected the activists discovered his real intentions. When this latest report was published, Juancar threatened one of the people he had deceived, also revealing his far-right ideology: “I am still ultra,” he wrote on Instagram. He also threatened this activist, saying “Make sure I don’t find you.”

Social Democracy Against Social Movements

The police infiltrations uncovered in recent years and depicted in this report occurred during the social-democratic coalition government between the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Podemos. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska (PSOE) remains in office and has publicly defended the work of these police officers and the need to use these methods to control left-wing groups. He was harshly criticized during his years as a judge for not investigating the torture that several Basque prisoners reported after their arrests. The European Court of Human Rights condemned Spain on several occasions for these incidents, with Grande-Marlaska being the responsible judge. During his term in the previous coalition government, he also supported the Civil Guard officers involved in the deaths of several migrants at the Melilla border with Morocco and defended the expulsion of migrant minors to Morocco without any judicial process or prior care.

None of the individuals or groups targeted by these infiltrations and espionage have been charged with any violent acts, nor do they face any serious accusations that could have justified such a significant police operation. The police infiltration in these cases is strictly for ideological reasons.

The tools of so-called anti-terrorist politics and state espionage on their citizens for their political ideas are not unique to what self-proclaimed democratic states consider dictatorships. These “democracies” use the same tools of control and punishment of dissent, sometimes institutionally and other times acting outside their own laws with virtually no consequences. Physical and psychological torture has been repeatedly used in both Spain and other Western countries as tools to discipline dissent, and very rarely do the perpetrators face legal consequences.

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