Europol smashes smuggling network operating in Italy, Germany and Switzerland

Image of the Europol logo.

Image of the Europol logo. Credit: Tobias Arhelger /

A joint operation by the Italian, German and Swiss law enforcement agencies led to the arrest of 10 members of a criminal network involved in the smuggling of gold and other precious goods.

As reported by Europol, the operation was conducted during the early hours of June 15, 2023, and also brought an end to the gang’s money laundering activities.

In total, the network was suspected of laundering over €15 million through a complex money laundering scheme across Europe. More than 150 police officers were involved in the operation, which took place in Italy, Germany and Switzerland.

An illegal gold foundry was discovered

This operation was initiated in 2019 by the ROS Carabinieri in the Italian city of Florence and was carried out in close cooperation with Swiss and German law enforcement agencies.

Initially, investigators focused on a Greek citizen, who was in contact with an Iranian entrepreneur involved in international gold smuggling and money laundering activities in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Turkey.

Overall, the criminal network consisted of 10 Italian, Greek, Turkish and Iranian nationals operating in the gold industry. They used shell companies to launder illicitly acquired assets through complex money laundering schemes.

Members of the criminal network bought gold and other precious commodities on the black market, counterfeited documents relating to these items, and used couriers to send them to Türkiye as their final destination.

In Zurich, investigators found a room converted into an illegal foundry where gold was melted to hide its illicit origin.

Close international police and judicial cooperation

The investigation was conducted with close police and judicial cooperation involving a joint investigation team coordinated by Eurojust.

Europol supported the investigation by providing intelligence, conducting multiple cross-checks and preparing cross-match reports, hosting operational and coordination meetings, and facilitating the exchange of information via SIENA.

Furthermore, the joint operation was supported by the EU-funded Project ISF4 @ON, an Italian-led initiative to tackle mafia-type organised crime groups operating in Europe.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at