BUSTED: Money laundering gang offering services via cryptocurrencies dismantled

GUARDIA CIVIL have broken up a gang that provided a large-scale money laundering service involving millions of euros to criminal organisations via cryptocurrencies.

Eight people were arrested and another eight charged for involvement in the crypto money laundering ring.

Seven houses were searched, including a money exchange office and an indoor cannabis cultivation plant.

Eleven vehicles, €16.800, close to 200 cannabis plants, two crypto ATMs, computers, devices, jewels and relevant documents were seized.

The criminals carried out several money laundering schemes involving the transfer from fiat (traditional) currency to virtual assets to hide the illegal origin of the proceeds.

Some of the identified modi operandi used crypto ATMs and smurfing, a criminal method used to split illicit proceeds into smaller sums and placing these small amounts into the financial system to avoid suspicious transaction reporting.

Spanish authorities froze four ‘cold wallets’ and 20 ‘hot wallets’, to which €9 million was transferred, as well as several bank accounts.

The operation was a follow-up of operation Guatuzo in which 23 people were arrested in summer 2018 in Spain and Colombia.

On the action day, Europol experts were deployed to Spain to back the Guardia Civil. They provided information and expertise, and cross-checked data gathered in the course of the action against Europol’s databases.

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Written by

Dilip Kuner

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