The National Police, together with the Belgian Federal Police and Europol, have stopped to the leader of a criminal network that, presumably, laundered money from drug trafficking with the sale of luxury cars in Marbella.
The investigation in Spain began after an operation by the Belgian police carried out at the beginning of the year in the Antwerp region against an organization dedicated to drug traffic. Thanks to this operation, a large amount of banking and financial information was collected, the analysis of which focused on the organization in Spain dedicated to laundering drug proceeds.
After several efforts, the agents carried out four records in the province of Malagaincluding the address of the principal involved and several of his associates, as well as the commercial premises from where they offered the sale of cars.
the ringleader was considered especially dangerous by the police authorities and, during searches, four firearms were seized45,000 euros in cash, several high-end cars and numerous high-value watches and jewels, as well as the blocking of a property worth more than 600,000 euros.
During this operation, which has lasted more than two years, the police authorities have been able to Intervene assets worth more than 2,300,000 euros, although the amounts laundered through this organization would be much higher. The detainee in Spain is awaiting extradition to Belgium.
The criminal group disbanded offered to criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking money laundering services, thus making it possible to hide the origin, nature and destination of the funds used to purchase the vehicles, as well as the ownership of the luxury cars.
The cash product of drug trafficking was first collected in Belgiumbefore being used in other European countries to buy luxury vehicles with prices many times higher than 100,000 euros.
By purchasing these very high-end vehicles, criminals were able to effectively convert illicit cash into consumer goods that would serve to hide the origin of the money. Later these cars were exported to other countries such as Spain, where in many cases they were re-registered.
These cars were used both to offer them in high class rental as for its subsequent sale, thus becoming laundered money within the financial system, they have specified from the National Police. Criminals often use these high-value assets (cars, boats, luxury planes, high-value jewelry or watches) to be able to transform their illegally sourced funds and be easily reconverted into laundered funds through their sale to third parties.
Such luxury purchases give criminals the opportunity to legitimate significant amounts of money in a single transaction. When cash is used as a means of payment, funds are deposited in the conventional financial system without being able to establish their origin, which eliminates the traces of the transaction and greatly hinders the ability to trace the origin of that cash at the time of purchase.
Coordination with Europol
For the coordination of the operation, the europol support through the European Financial and Economic Crime Center (EFECC), which was in charge of providing analytical support and also putting national investigators in contact in order to agree on a joint strategy and the preparation of the final phase of the investigation.
In addition, its experts were deployed both in Antwerp like in marbella during the two days of action to facilitate the exchange of operational information and assist with the forensic analysis of seized devices.
Is research It was carried out with the financial support of the EMPACT funds (European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats).