On Saturday, EU police, dubbed Europol, dismantled a predominantly Syrian terrorist group believed to run Europe’s “largest drug bank.”
This came in a statement by Europol, confirming that more than 200 officers raided 21 sites in the provinces of Málaga and Toledo. This led to the arrest of 32 people, including the head of the gang, and the confiscation of about 3 million euros of criminal assets.
The confiscations amounted to about 428,000 euros in cash, 19 cryptocurrency accounts worth 1.5 million euros, 11 luxury vehicles, 70 kilograms of hashish, 1.2 tons of narcotic marijuana, and a farm containing 995 seedlings of the same substance, the statement said.
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Following their arrest, the statement noted that the group was mainly made up of Syrians. They provide financial services to criminal organizations linked to drug trafficking in more than 20 countries worldwide. It added that the group has been active since 2020 and is believed to have laundered more than 300 million euros annually.
It explained that the criminal group operates from a local restaurant in an industrial zone in the city of Fuenlabrada in central Spain. Customers there can deposit or collect large amounts of cash and launder their profits through the financial network, which has an international structure. The statement also pointed out that the group uses the system of “remittances” known to criminal gangs and others to transfer large amounts of money without any records.
Since May 2020, Europol has been collecting information and ongoing intelligence analysis to map the international activity of this criminal network, the EU Police Agency said. It added that it had sent two experts from the European Centre for Financial and Economic Crimes to Madrid to assist the Spanish investigation into the cross-audit.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.