21 Dec 2020
By Will Neal, OCCRP, 18 December 2020
OCCRP — Authorities in Spain have arrested 23 alleged members of a Russian-speaking conspiracy to infiltrate public institutions and launder proceeds from criminal enterprises involving murder, extortion, and drug, arms and human trafficking in several countries around the world.
The sting, announced on Thursday as part of a joint operation between the National Police and Europol, marks the end of a seven year investigation, and has been described as the largest action of the decade against top-level, Russian organized crime in Spain.
In addition to the arrests, police also conducted raids on 18 residences in Alicante, Madrid, Tarragona and Ibiza, seizing a further 23 properties in addition to 16 high-end vehicles and a trove of diamonds.
Officers also seized bank safe deposit boxes, €329,000 (US$400,000) in cash and virtual wallets containing cryptocurrency, as well as almost a dozen high-powered weapons including a sniper rifle and silencer, combat shotguns, an assault rifle and caches of ammunition.
The identities of those detained have not yet been publicly disclosed. The top managers of the alleged organization are reportedly among those arrested.
According to a statement from the Spanish National Police, the probe began in 2013 when investigators noted that the Russian mafia appeared to have intensified its investment in Spanish businesses, targeting nightclubs, restaurants, industrial holdings and real estate in coastal areas, as a means of laundering criminal proceeds from abroad.
Read more at OCCRP
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