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Global Money Laundering Network Dismantled: 33 Arrests in Coordinated Italy-Spain Operation

Money LaunderingGlobal Money Laundering Network Dismantled: 33 Arrests in Coordinated Italy-Spain Operation

This morning, authorities in Italy and Spain carried out coordinated arrests, apprehending 33 suspects involved in a global money laundering criminal network. The network, comprised of individuals from various nationalities including Italian, Albanian, Colombian, Moroccan, and Syrian, had established an international network of companies to launder illicit funds. These individuals offered professional money laundering services, primarily concealing the origin of proceeds from illegal drug trafficking originating in South America.

The operation was supported by Europol and Eurojust. Italian Guardia di Finanza’s money laundering experts discovered a complex structure of electronics companies spread across the world and seized assets worth EUR 18.5 million. The network operated through a web of companies located in different countries, such as China, Turkey, and the United States, among others. This intricate setup enabled the organized crime group to hide the source, ownership, and movement of illegally obtained funds.

The arrested criminals engaged in trade-based money laundering, using a method known as the “Black Market Pesos Exchange.” This process minimized the risk of fund seizures and allowed faster access to funds. The scheme involved drug producers extending credit to Italian buyers, who then sold the drugs in Europe. Profits were collected by brokers, directed to companies, and used to purchase goods like mobile phones from China. These goods were sent to the United States and later transported to Colombia, where they were sold, and the resulting cash was funneled back to the drug cartels.

The operation was made possible through international cooperation between the Italian Guardia di Finanza and the Spanish Policía Nacional, supported by Europol and Eurojust. Europol provided intelligence, operational analysis, expertise, and financial support for operational meetings since May 2020. On the day of action, a Europol money laundering specialist was present at the coordination center hosted by Eurojust.

Authorities involved:
Italy: Guardia di Finanza, Nucleo Polizia Economico-Finanziaria di Trento (Financial Police, Economic-Financial Police Unit Trento)
Spain: Policía Nacional, UDEF and UDYCO Central (National Police)

By FCCT Editorial Team

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity.

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