The money laundering cell is destroyed/ 33 arrested, among them Albanians

2023-05-31 10:37:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

The money laundering cell is destroyed/ 33 arrested, among them Albanians

Authorities in Italy and Spain have arrested 33 suspects in a coordinated operation against a global criminal money laundering network. The suspected perpetrators, who are of Italian, Albanian, Colombian, Moroccan and Syrian nationality, had created an international network of companies to launder dirty money.

As a so-called "controller of the money laundering network", the criminal network provided a professional criminal service to hide the origin of the income generated by the illegal drug traffic from South America.

With the support of Europol and Eurojust, money laundering specialists from the Italian Guardia di Finanza uncovered a network of electronic companies located around the globe and seized 18.5 million euros in assets.

The criminal structure used companies in countries such as China, Turkey and the United States of America, among others. This complex web of companies allowed organized crime to disguise the nature, source, location, ownership, control, origin and/or destination of ill-gotten funds and avoid detection.

Trade-based money laundering

To launder drug profits generated in Europe, the arrested criminals offered a trade-based money laundering service known as the Black Market Pesos Exchange. This process reduces the risk of losing money through forfeitures and allows faster access to funds.

Drug manufacturers would give drugs to Italian buyers as a form of credit. The profits generated from the sale of the drugs in Europe were then taken by middlemen, funneled into the company and used to order goods such as mobile phones from China, to give just one example.

These goods were then shipped to the United States and further transported to Colombia, where they were marketed. Once sold, cartels such as Grupo Armado Organizado received the cash and thus their secret payment for the drugs given to European dealers.

Coordinated international police efforts

Based on the international law enforcement cooperation between the Italian Guardia di Finanza and the Spanish Policía Nacional, supported by Europol and Eurojust, the modus operandi of the criminal network can be unraveled. In Italy alone, 18.5 million euros can be traced as money laundered to organized crime groups.

On the day of the action, Europol deployed a money laundering specialist with a mobile office in the coordination center organized by Eurojust. Europol had supported the case since May 2020, providing intelligence, expertise and operational analysis, as well as financial support for operational meetings./ CNA.al

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