Spanish police arrest 20 suspected money launderers and drug traffickers

Image: Europol/Guardia Civil

Spanish law enforcement seized more than €5.5 million in assets of suspected money launderers and drug traffickers

A joint investigation supported by Europol has led to the arrest of 20 suspected money launderers and drug traffickers. The operation was led by the Spanish Guardia Civil, with support from the Italian Central Directorate for Anti-Drugs Services (Direzione Centrale Servizi Antidroga), and resulted in the seizure of more than €5.5 million in criminal assets and over 2 tons of drugs. Based in the south of Spain, the criminal network was composed of Albanian, Italian, Spanish and Moroccan nationals, and was led by Italian nationals who evaded capture using forged identity documents.

During the operation, 6 houses were searched in Sevilla, 2 luxury watches and €16 545 in cash was seized, 2 500 kilograms of hashish and 45.6 kilograms of marihuana was also seized as well as a boat, tools for marihuana cultivation and hashish production, and 34 mobile phones. Forged travel and identification documents were seized also.

Criminals relied on false identities

Residing in towns between Sevilla and Malaga, they attempted to avoid detection by taking various security measures and by frequently changing their addresses.

The criminal network used a variety of money laundering methods to obfuscate their drug trafficking proceeds. These included the channelling of money via fake invoices, loans, investments in luxury real estate and more.

Drug lab and marihuana plantation

Investigations in this case were kicked off in October 2021, when a hashish shipment was found hidden in a lorry transporting pallets of onions. Law enforcement arrested the two drivers and seized 468 kilograms of hashish. This was followed by another seizure of 194 kilograms of hashish and 30 kilograms of marihuana in May 2022.

The interception of this large shipment from Morocco shows that is has become increasingly difficult for criminals to import drugs via the sea. To circumvent this issue, the organisation had built a laboratory for hashish production and set up a large marihuana plantation in southern Spain.

These were discovered during the operation, which involved more than 150 law enforcement officials.


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Written by

Victoria Scott