Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Operation reveals organised crime network in Spain

Yesterday Spanish police arrested 28 people suspected of belonging to the Russian mafia. 400 police agents were involved in "Operation Wasp". 800 bank accounts were frozen as a result of the investigations leading to yesterday's arrests in what Spain's Interior Minister described as Europe's biggest police operation carried out yet against organised crime

The arrests took place in Alicante, Barcelona and Malaga where police also registered several propierties. The suspects who come from Russia and other ex-Soviet Union countries, are accused of belonging to illegal organisations, laundering money, false bankrupcy and illegal residence.

The Spanish police claimed yesterday that during the operation they had arrested the leaders of Russian mafia groups who use the Mediterranean coast to launder black money. 41 properties were registered in Benissa, Alicante, Orihuela, Altea, Benidorm and Aig├╝es.

Spanish police were helped in the operation by Interpol, Europol aswell as French, Belgian, US, Russian and Israeli police forces. The international collaboration enabled detectives to collect together information about the activities of various organised groups of international criminals from ex-Soviet countries. According to the Interior Ministry, they had set up home in Spain and were entering into a second stage of activity, allocating to themselves areas of influence and operations in Catalonia, Costa del Sol and Alicante.

By the time police acted yesterday, the groups had set up numerous companies, presumably to cover up illicit financial operations. One German resident and three Spaniards were among the suspects arrested yesterday.

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