E.g., 06/29/2023
E.g., 06/29/2023

SARAJEVO, 15 December 2022 – The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) co-organized a two-day conference on the subject of preventing money laundering and financing of terrorism to increase the awareness of the key stakeholders on the most relevant developments and challenges.

At the conference, which gathered over 80 participants from more than 40 institutions, and which concluded today in Sarajevo, Edin Jahić, Head of the Ministry of Security’s Department for Fight against Organized Crime and Corruption said:

“Considering that the new evaluation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Moneyval Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism started last week, this conference is very important for institutions and agencies working in this field. In the past, the EU and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had designated BiH as a country with a high level of risk in terms of preventing money laundering and financing of terrorism - a designation that carries political, economic and financial consequences. The new evaluation cycle places far more emphasis on implementation of FATF recommendations, risk assessment, and the impact on implementation of measures to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. Changes in the FATF methodology mean that, in case of a negative evaluation finding, BiH would need to go beyond merely amending legal provisions in order to fulfil requirements.”

Bakir Haverić, Advisor in GIZ recalled that “an effective system of combating money laundering and terrorist financing is crucial for BiH's prospects for membership in the European Union”. He moreover reaffirmed that, through the Global Program on Combating Illicit Financial Flows, GIZ will continue to strengthen relevant capacities of BiH partner institutions.

Selma Zeković, Chief of Anti-terrorism at the OSCE Mission to BiH highlighted that “the participation of a wide range of government and private sector actors from across BiH in the conference illustrates the degree of commitment to improving the country’s frameworks for anti-money laundering and combating of terrorist financing”. She also reaffirmed that the OSCE will continue to support efforts to increase BiH capacity for detecting and combatting money laundering and terrorist financing as well as for improving BiH compliance with the related international commitments and standards.



Operation Turquesa IV aimed to identify and dismantle criminal organizations exploiting the world’s most vulnerable

LYON, France - An INTERPOL operation targeting human trafficking and migrant smuggling across Latin America and the Caribbean has seen victims rescued, migrants detected and suspected perpetrators arrested in 32 countries.

The fourth in INTERPOL’s ‘Turquesa’ series of operations, the five-day (28 November – 2 December) operation saw Latin American investigators use INTERPOL capabilities to work with police forces on all continents to generate investigative  leads and disrupt the global crime groups behind people trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Frontline officers conducted controls at trafficking and smuggling hotspots identified ahead of operations, with particular emphasis on transit points such as airports, bus terminals and border crossings.

Although results are still coming in, preliminary reporting points to the arrest of 268 individuals suspected of involvement in migrant smuggling, human trafficking, or associated crime such as document fraud and sexual offences.

A total of 9,015 irregular migrants were detected, and 128 women and two men rescued from human trafficking.  Most of the trafficked victims were from Colombia and Venezuela.

Global trafficking crossroads

Multiple cases involved the interception in Central America of migrant men, women and children from all parts of the world on their way to North America, including the detection in Mexico of 2,400 migrants from the Americas (Venezuela, Cuba), Africa (Angola, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Ethiopia) and Asia (Bangladesh and Nepal).

Mirroring this global smuggling link, Nicaragua police detected more than 2,000 migrants traveling from Asia (Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, and Nepal), Africa (Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo) as well as the Americas (Haiti and Ecuador) towards the US and Canada.

Honduras authorities arrested a 30-year-old woman for the organized sexual exploitation of three minors and Guatemala police arrested a similarly aged woman on suspicion of both human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

El Salvador authorities arrested a number of women suspected of trafficking their own children, including a disabled girl, who were destined for sexual exploitation.

Chilean police controls on the border with Bolivia and Peru saw 300 migrants from Venezuela and Bolivia, including minors, detected whilst Brazilian authorities arrested four suspects attempting to smuggle 21 migrants from Cuba and South Africa between French Guyana and Brazil.

Illustrating the growing trafficking link between Latin America and Europe, Bolivia arrested a Red Notice subject wanted by Spain for sexual abuse, and in Paraguay a woman who was the subject of a Red Notice for human trafficking and sexual exploitation, was arrested attempting to traffic her niece to Spain for sexual exploitation.

“Human trafficking and migrant smuggling are multi-billion euro criminal industries, bankrolling the world’s most dangerous organized crime groups and violating the fundamental rights of victims in the process,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

“The stories we hear of exploitation on global migrant trails in operations like Turquesa IV are heartbreaking, and law enforcement has a duty to safeguard the victims while bringing the perpetrators to justice,” added Secretary General Stock.

Sustainable, long-term impact

To share contemporary investigation and victim interview techniques, strengthen the region’s ability to investigate cases of human trafficking and migrant smuggling, and support cooperation at the regional and international levels, Turquesa IV’s action phase was preceded by training workshops.

INTERPOL's National Central Bureau in Chile supported participating countries’ operational and investigative needs throughout the week-long operation by hosting a dedicated coordination unit staffed by local and INTERPOL experts on financial crime, human trafficking and migrant smuggling.  

A cross-sector, coordinated approach involving CARICOM IMPACS, UNODC, IOM and Europol enabled Operation Turquesa IV to combine collective strengths and exchange best practices for maximum results on the ground whilst also ensuring victims received appropriate care and protection throughout the judicial processes.  

Funded by GAC Global Affairs Canada, Operation Turquesa IV is the second operation of its kind to be coordinated with the support of INTERPOL’s ‘PROTEGER’ Project which aims to strengthen law enforcement capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean to stem migrant smuggling, with special attention to gender considerations.



NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, Dec 14 (Reuters) - U.S. senators on Wednesday pressed Congress to regulate cryptocurrency under existing financial rules, as lawmakers scramble to rein in the troubled industry after prosecutors filed criminal charges against FTX founder Samuel Bankman-Fried.

Lawmakers are generally in agreement that crypto firms should have greater regulation, but there are divergent views on how the industry should be regulated.

Critics say the crypto world is riddled with fraud and misconduct, but proponents say the industry has simply suffered from a lack of regulation.

U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday charged FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried with money laundering and fraud, among other violations. The charges capped a stunning downfall for Bankman-Fried, who amassed a fortune valued over $20 billion as he rode a cryptocurrency boom to build FTX into one of the world's largest exchanges before it abruptly collapsed this year.

"It is time for Congress to make the crypto industry follow the same money-laundering rules as everyone else," U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren said during a hearing of the key Senate Banking Committee.

She and Republican Senator Roger Marshall from Kansas earlier announced legislation aimed at closing money laundering loopholes in the crypto industry.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey, the ranking member of the Banking Committee, said he did not think the money-laundering rules were well-suited to crypto, describing existing anti-money laundering technology as "archaic."

Warren wants to hand control of crypto oversight to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Republican Senator Cynthia Lummis said at the hearing that she plans to reintroduce a bill that would give more authority to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), an agency critics worry would not go far enough to rein in the industry.

When asked whether he believed Washington bears some blame for FTX's collapse, Toomey agreed.

"The absence of legislation that creates the guardrails for regulation and the corresponding absence of any certainty has driven activity offshore to places like the Bahamas," he said after Wednesday's hearing. "That doesn't always end well for American consumers and others."

Each of the hearing's witnesses - which included actor and crypto skeptic Ben McKenzie Schenkkan and "SharkTank" television personality and FTX investor Kevin O'Leary - said they believe there is likely more fraud to be found in the crypto world.

Without U.S. regulation, the value of crypto investments could disappear, said hearing witness and American University law professor Hilary Allen.

"Whilst that is very bad news for the people who've already invested, I think it's very good news for the rest of us because it's been kept out of the broader financial system and we won't suffer the consequences of its broader failure."



Information sharing and greater collaboration key to more effective and coordinated operational support

UNITED NATIONS, New York – Bringing together regional law enforcement and security organizations, the 6th edition of the INTERPOL Dialogue focused on the continued commitment to enhance the global policing architecture.

The need for greater collaboration on strategic planning, and a move towards a new global model for police data sharing were also high on the agenda for the two-day meeting (8 and 9 December) held at the United Nations.

Common vision – Shared responsibility

“The Dialogue is an opportunity to continue building on our common vision and shared responsibility to ensure that the global policing architecture is ready to contribute to sustainable development around the world,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

“Our strategic vision should therefore be long-term and multilayered, informed by global and regional threats affecting wider economic and social issues.

“Without a concerted, coordinated effort, there is a profound risk that gaps could occur, or that we unnecessarily duplicate efforts at a time when police forces face unprecedented challenges,’ concluded Secretary General Stock.

Global Policing Goals

The Dialogue will also contribute to the review process of INTERPOL’s Global Policing Goals (GPGs) and their nexus to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The aim is to also reflect the strategic priorities and perspectives of all regional policing organizations in order to identify opportunities for collective action in combating identified threats.

The review of the INTERPOL GPGs will be conducted as the United Nations reviews the implement of their SDGs.

An INTERPOL initiative to create a platform of liaison officers from all regional policing organizations at the General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France was also welcomed by Dialogue members.

Participating Dialogue entities: The Arab Interior Ministers' Council (AIMC), the African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL), the Police Community of the Americas (AMERIPOL), the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS), the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the Gulf Cooperation Council-POL (GCCPOL), the Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO-RATS) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).




On 30 November, a Brazilian vessel carrying over 4.6 tonnes of cocaine was intercepted by the French Navy as a result of intelligence activities underway between Europol, MAOC-N and the authorities in Brazil, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.


Heading towards Europe, the 21 meter-long vessel was intercepted in international waters off the coast of Sierra Leone. Its illegal shipment is believed to be worth in excess of EUR 150 million.

An investigation is underway to identify the criminal groups involved on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Participating authorities 

-Brazil: Federal Police (Polícia Federal)

-France: National Police (Police Nationale – OFAST), National Navy (Marine Nationale)

-United Kingdom: National Crime Agency (NCA) 

-United States: US Drug Enforcement Administration (US DEA) 

-Europol: European Serious Organised Crime Centre 

-Maritime Analysis and Operation Centre – Narcotics (MAOC – N)


The cocaine infrastructure 

Underpinning the drug trafficking activities is a transport infrastructure that connects Latin American source countries with areas of consumption.

Europol’s unique capabilities has positioned the Agency as the place where such crucial intelligence emerges. Europol currently hosts at its headquarters over 250 liaison officers from over 50 countries and organisations, which sees law enforcement from countries across the world working side by side to fight the most dangerous criminal networks.

Coupled with Europol’s work into the encrypted means of communication used by criminals, this coordinated intelligence-led approach is delivering tangible results in the fight against maritime drugs trafficking. 



Council of the EU - Press release 

7 December 2022

The EU continues its fight to protect EU citizens and the EU's financial system against money laundering and terrorist financing. In order to enlarge the scope of the existing regulatory framework and to close possible loopholes, today the Council agreed its position on an anti-money laundering (AML) regulation and a new directive (AMLD6). Together with the proposal for a recast of the transfer of funds regulation, on which an agreement has already been reached with the European Parliament, these will form the new EU AML rulebook once adopted.

“Terrorists and those who finance them are not welcome in Europe. In order to launder dirty money, criminal individuals and organisations had to look for loopholes in our existing rules which are already quite strict. But our intention is to close these loopholes further, and to apply even stricter rules in all EU member states. Large cash payments beyond €10.000 will become impossible. Trying to stay anonymous when buying or selling crypto-assets will become much more difficult. Hiding behind multiple layers of ownership of companies won’t work any more. It will even become difficult to launder dirty money via jewellers or goldsmiths.” Zbyněk Stanjura, Minister for Finance of Czechia

The new EU anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) rules will be extended to the entire crypto sector, obliging all crypto-asset service providers (CASPs) to conduct due diligence on their customers. This means that they will have to verify facts and information about their customers. In its position, the Council demands CASPs to apply customer due diligence measures when carrying out transactions amounting to €1000 or more, and adds measures to mitigate risks in relation to transactions with self-hosted wallets. The Council also introduced specific enhanced due diligence measures for cross-border correspondent relationships for crypto-asset service providers.

Third-party financing intermediaries, persons trading in precious metals, precious stones and cultural goods, will also be subject to the obligations of the regulation, as will jewellers, horologists and goldsmiths.

By limiting large cash payments, the EU will make it harder for criminals to launder dirty money. An EU-wide maximum limit of €10.000 is set for cash payments. Member states will have the flexibility to impose a lower maximum limit if they wish.

Third countries that are listed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF, the international standard setter in anti-money laundering) will also be listed by the EU. There will accordingly be two EU lists, a “black list” and a “grey list”, reflecting the FATF listings. The Commission will not be required to redo the identification process performed by the FATF. This is to ensure that FATF lists are transcribed in a timely manner and to avoid wasting resources. Once a third country appears on one of these lists, the EU will apply measures proportionate to the risks posed by the country.

In its position, the Council decided to make beneficial ownership rules more transparent and to harmonise them more. In particular, the Council clarifies that beneficial ownership is based on two components – ownership and control – which need to be analysed in order to assess how control is exercised over a legal entity, and to identify all natural persons who are the beneficial owners of that legal entity. Related rules applicable to multi-layered ownership and control structures are also clarified. The Council also spells out further how to identify and verify the identity of beneficial owners across types of entities, including non-EU entities. Data protection and record retention provisions are also clarified. This is expected to make the work of the competent authorities easier and faster.

Member states should ensure that any natural or legal person that can demonstrate a legitimate interest has access to information held in the beneficial ownership registers, and such persons should include those journalists and civil society organisations that are connected with the prevention and combating of money laundering and terrorist financing.

The package also foresees i.a. the clarification of outsourcing provisions, the clarification of the powers of supervisors, a minimum set of information to which all financial intelligence units (national centres for the receipt and analysis of suspicious transaction reports and relevant money laundering information) should have access, as well as improved cooperation among authorities.


On 20 July 2021, the Commission presented its package of legislative proposals to strengthen the EU’s rules on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT). This package consists of:

-a regulation establishing a new EU anti-money laundering authority (AMLA) which will have powers to impose sanctions and penalties

-a regulation recasting the regulation on transfers of funds which aims to make transfers of crypto-assets more transparent and fully traceable

-a regulation on anti-money-laundering requirements for the private sector

-a directive on anti-money-laundering mechanisms


Now that the Council has agreed its position on the anti-money laundering regulation and directive, it is ready to start trilogue negotiations with the European Parliament in order to agree on a final version of the texts.



U.S. Department of the Treasury - December 8, 2022

WASHINGTON—The G7 Cyber Expert Group (CEG) – which U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure (OCCIP) co-chairs alongside the Bank of England – recently released two reports addressing ransomware and third-party risk within the financial sector. These free and publicly available resources are intended to help financial sector entities better understand cybersecurity topics as agreed upon by a multilateral consensus.  

The Fundamental Elements of Ransomware Resilience for the Financial Sector provides financial entities with high-level building blocks for addressing the ransomware threat. The document is part of a series of Fundamental Elements produced by the CEG, all of which are non-prescriptive and non-binding, and provide an overview of the current policy approaches, industry guidance, and best practices in place throughout the G7. The aim of this document is for financial institutions – both public and private – to use its guidance for their own internal ransomware mitigation activities. Additionally, the collaboration between the G7 jurisdictions on producing this report highlights global efforts to promote the resilience of the financial sector. 

The CEG’s other product for 2022, The Fundamental Elements of Third-Party Risk Management for the Financial Sector, updates a previous version published in 2018. Due to the increasing use of service providers by financial institutions in central operational functions and the subsequent vulnerabilities created by this reliance, the G7 CEG deemed this update necessary to keep pace with the ever-changing cyber threat landscape. The update includes explicit recommendations for monitoring risks along the supply chain, identifying systemically important third-party providers, and concentration risks.

These reports were announced in October 2022 by Bundesbank, as part of Germany’s presidency of G7, after they were adopted by the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. They were published on Bundesbank’s website alongside previous Fundamental Elements on such topics as cybersecurity in the financial sector, penetration testing, and cyber exercises. 

The G7 CEG was founded in 2015 to serve as a multi-year working group that coordinates cybersecurity policy and strategy across the eight G7 jurisdictions. In addition to policy coordination, the G7 CEG also acts as a vehicle for information sharing, cooperation, and incident response.



The Guardian Nigeria

With several challenges of financial crimes, emerging money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) threats evolving around the global landscape, members of the Compliance Institute of Nigeria (CIN) have concluded plans to up their game in addressing issues of anti-money laundering and combating financial terrorism.

The institute said this was pertinent to maintain its status as the pacesetter for compliance practice within the financial industry in Nigeria, as well as to promote and uphold regulatory standards in industries for a respectable compliance profession.

President, CIN, Pattison Boleigha, said after the global financial collapse, both the public and private sector introduced external and internal reforms to absorb the shock. He said whether the reforms had proven successful remained an open question.

He spoke ahead of the institute’s induction and yearly meeting, scheduled to hold on December 3, 2022 with the theme ‘Compliance Culture and Corporate Governance: Role of Compliance Officers in the Public and Private Sectors.’

He said the institute would host the Director-General of the Inter- Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Numero-uno Agency for AML/CFT Compliance within the sub-region, Edwin Harris, who will deliver the keynote address.

He said: “How companies respond to this broader culture mandate will have a significant impact on how well companies succeed in going forward. Those companies that recognise and adapt early to the changing cultural dynamic in which we all operate will fare far better than entities that remain stagnant or turn a blind eye to the inevitable changes occurring in communities throughout the world. For us, there is no better time to dissect the issues than now.”

According to the Registrar, CIN, Victor Oni, said with the progress and innovation in the business community with regard to compliance and corporate governance, it is expedient to x-ray in the coming year, what will be required of companies to thrive in an increasingly diverse and global consumer market.



Strengthening Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capacity to counter the financing of terrorism was the topic of a four-day course, which concluded on 01 December in Sarajevo. The course was organized by the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department, with the support of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The aim of the course was to highlight various instruments and techniques to assess and disrupt terrorist activity. Eight local trainers, supported by international experts, delivered sessions and exercises on financial disruption. Inter-agency teams examined the ‘business model’ of terrorist networks and learned how to apply techniques, including auditing and vulnerabilities analysis, to disrupt the financing of terrorism.

Twenty-four participants, including representatives of the Ministry of Security of BiH, the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, the State Investigation and Protection Agency, Intelligence Security Agency of BiH, the Ministry of Interior of the Federation of BiH, the Ministry of Interior of Republika Srpska and Brčko District Police took part in the course.

The course, organized with the financial support of the United States, is part of a comprehensive multi-annual training programme on countering the financing of terrorism, jointly implemented by the OSCE and the UNODC since 2020.

The training programme is designed to support Bosnia and Herzegovina to comply with international standards, in particular UN Security Council Resolutions, such as UN Security Council Resolution 2462 (2019), Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) standards, and OSCE commitments.



Law enforcement prevented EUR 17.5 million from being laundered by money mules in three-month action


Law enforcement from 25 countries, supported by Europol, Eurojust, INTERPOL and the European Banking Federation (EBF) have joined forces to crack down on one of the most important enablers of money laundering: money mules and their recruiters.


During an operational phase carried out between mid-September to the end of November 2022, 8 755 money mules were identified alongside 222 money mule recruiters, and 2 469 individuals were arrested worldwide. 

Now in its eighth edition, the European Money Mule Action (EMMA8) has gone international, with actions carried out in countries as far apart as Colombia, Singapore and Australia. 


EMMA is the largest international operation of its kind, built around the idea that public-private information sharing is key to fighting complex modern crimes. This year, and with the continuing coordination of the EBF, around 1 800 banks and financial institutions supported law enforcement in this action, alongside online money transfer services, cryptocurrency exchanges, Fintech and KYC companies, and multinational computer technology corporations.  


Overview of the results 

-2 469 money mules arrested;

-1 648 criminal investigations initiated;

-4 089 fraudulent transactions identified;

-EUR 17.5 million intercepted.


Participating countries 

Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Singapore and Hong Kong (China), Ireland, Italy, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, United Kingdom, United States.

A link in the money laundering chain

Have you ever been asked to help transfer money by:

-An online friend or love interest?

-Someone offering a way to make easy money?

-Someone claiming to need help as they can’t use their own bank account?


If yes, you may have been talking to a money mule recruiter - and if you did what they asked, you may have committed a crime.

The issue may seem trivial, yet the amount of criminal money being laundered through this method is not. Money mules are a significant part of the money laundering landscape, enabling criminals to swiftly move funds across a network of accounts, often in different countries. 

The use of money mules is especially widespread in cybercrime, with the mules transfer the proceeds from their jurisdiction to the criminal’s home country.


This week Europol, together with international partners, the European Banking Federation and financial institutions, will be raising awareness about this crime and its criminal implications through the #DontBeaMule campaign. 

The campaign is available for download in 26 languages and will inform the public about how these criminals operate, how they can recognise the signs and what to do if they become a target. 

Do you think you might be used as a mule? Act now before it is too late: stop transferring money and notify your bank and your national police immediately.

EMMA8 was carried out in the framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) Cybercrime OFS Operational Action Plan led by the Netherlands. 



Terrorist suspects and transnational organized crime targeted in Operation Neptune IV

LYON, France – Two terrorist suspects wanted internationally under Red Notices have been arrested during an international maritime border operation coordinated by INTERPOL.

Another eight investigative leads linked to terrorism were generated during Operation Neptune IV (1 July – 3 September) which targeted terrorist suspects and other criminals involved in serious organized crime travelling via maritime routes between North Africa and Southern Europe.

The intelligence-led operation was supported by an INTERPOL team on the ground, and also targeted criminal networks involved in the drugs trade, firearms trafficking, human trafficking and people smuggling.

Officials at seaports and airports in eight countries – Algeria, Cyprus, France, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia – carried out more than 2.6 million checks across INTERPOL’s databases for stolen and lost travel documents, nominal data and stolen vehicles via its I-24/7 secure global police communications network.

These checks generated 140 hits, resulting in 14 additional arrests following seizures worth USD 3.6 million, including: 33 kg of cocaine, some 39,400 ecstasy pills, 133 kg of cannabis, and ten stolen cars. Ten firearms were also seized.

The operation also targeted illicit migrant flows, with authorities in France, Italy and Spain arresting suspected human traffickers and people smugglers and intercepting 13 irregular migrants.

With thousands of vehicles and passengers crossing international borders via maritime routes every year, INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said that cross-border initiatives such as Neptune demonstrate how concerted law enforcement action can disrupt terrorist threats and criminals on the move.

“We know that the threat landscape continues to evolve and so too must law enforcement responses to terrorism and transnational organized crime,” said Secretary General Stock.

“Cross-border information exchange between law enforcement agencies and partner agencies is vital to ensure frontline border officers have access to the right information at the right time.

“Operation Neptune ensures that we are coordinating law enforcement efforts at a national, regional and global level. It provides a tangible response to security threats by better targeting the illicit movement of goods and people and serious organized crime activities,” added the Secretary General.

Italian authorities in the port of Genoa also seized some EUR 250,000 in undeclared cash, which investigators suspect was part of illicit money flows towards the Middle East and North Africa region as part of terrorist financing.

INTERPOL’s databases currently hold details of more than 87,000 foreign terrorist fighters and some 1.6 million pieces of terrorist-related information.

The role of international cooperation against crime was further highlighted in the operation with experts from Europol, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and the World Customs Organization also involved in the initiative.



WASHINGTON - Two Estonian citizens were arrested in Tallinn, Estonia, on an 18-count indictment for their alleged involvement in a $575 million cryptocurrency fraud and money laundering conspiracy, the U.S. Justice Department said on Monday.

Sergei Potapenko and Ivan Turõgin, both 37, allegedly defrauded hundreds of thousands of victims through a multi-faceted scheme, wherein they induced them to enter fraudulent equipment rental contracts with the defendants' cryptocurrency mining service called HashFlare, the department said in a statement.

They also made victims invest in a virtual currency bank called Polybius Bank, which in reality was not a bank and never paid out the promised dividends, the Justice Department said.

Victims paid more than $575 million to Potapenko and Turõgin’s companies and they both then used shell companies to launder the fraud proceeds and to purchase real estate and luxury cars, the department said.

The indictment was returned by a grand jury in the Western District of Washington on Oct. 27 and unsealed on Monday.

A representative of Potapenko and Turõgin could not immediately be reached for comment.

"The size and scope of the alleged scheme is truly astounding," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr of the Justice Department's criminal division. "U.S. and Estonian authorities are working to seize and restrain these assets and take the profit out of these crimes."

The money laundering conspiracy allegedly involved at least 75 real properties, six luxury vehicles, cryptocurrency wallets, and thousands of cryptocurrency mining machines, according to the department, which said the case was probed by the FBI.



Operation HAECHI III cracks down on voice phishing, romance scams, sextortion, investment fraud, business email compromise and money laundering associated with illegal online gambling

LYON, France – An INTERPOL police operation to tackle online fraud has seen almost 1000 suspects arrested and the seizure of USD 129,975,440 worth of virtual assets.

Fraud investigators around the world worked together over five months (28 June – 23 November) to intercept money and virtual assets linked to a wide range of cyber-enabled financial crimes and money laundering, assisting countries to recover and return illicitly obtained funds to victims.

Specifically targeting voice phishing, romance scams, sextortion, investment fraud and money laundering associated with illegal online gambling, Operation HAECHI III was coordinated by INTERPOL’s Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC) which supported 30 countries via their respective INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs).

In total, the operation resulted in the arrest of 975 individuals and allowed investigators to resolve more than 1,600 cases. In addition almost 2,800 bank and virtual-asset accounts linked to the illicit proceeds of online financial crime were blocked.

Operation HAECHI III investigations generated the publication of 95 INTERPOL Notices and diffusions, and the detection of 16 new crime trends.

Taking the profit out of financial crime

Operation HAECHI III brought together law enforcement agencies, Financial Intelligence Units, asset recovery offices, prosecutors and private sector financial experts to identify illicit funds and money mules, detect money laundering activities and deactivate associated bank accounts.

“The success of this operation is based on two key elements for law enforcement, follow the money and cooperation via INTERPOL. We have highlighted the need for greater efforts to deprive criminals of their illegal gains and this operation has seen member countries doing just that.” Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General.

International police cooperation during Operation HAECHI III unveiled several emerging online financial crime trends, particularly variations on impersonation scams, romance frauds, sextortion and investment frauds.

Investigators also reported a surge in fraudulent investment schemes committed through the use of instant messaging apps where encrypted information is exchanged promoting the use of cryptocurrency wallets for payment.

In one investigation, two Red Notice fugitives wanted by Korea for suspected involvement in a global Ponzi scheme were arrested in Greece and Italy after embezzling EUR 28 million from 2,000 Korean victims.

In another case, the Austrian and Indian NCBs identified a group of online criminals who had been impersonating INTERPOL officers, persuading victims to transfer some USD 159,000 through financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and online gift cards. Indian authorities raided the call centre, seizing four cryptocurrency wallets and other crucial crime evidence.

"As we look to the future, we recognize the importance for decisive and concerted law enforcement action across borders.  This year’s leg of Operation HAECHI III speaks volumes of IFCACC’s dedicated coordination and the strong commitment of participating countries, all of which foretell of new law enforcement victories ahead," said Hyung Se Lee, Head of NCB Seoul.

From test pilot to live policing tool: ARRP

After several months of pilot testing, Operation HAECHI III saw investigators launch INTERPOL’s new global stop-payment mechanism, known as the Anti-Money Laundering Rapid Response Protocol (ARRP), which  enables countries to work together to submit and handle requests to restrain criminal proceeds.

Among many ARRP successes during the operation, NCBs Manchester and Dublin worked together to trace and seize some EUR 1.2 million lost to business email scams perpetrated in Ireland.  The funds were returned in full to the victim’s Irish bank account, and investigations continue.

Since January 2022, in total the ARRP has helped member countries recover more than USD 120 million in criminal proceeds from cyber-enabled fraud.

HAECHI III participating countries : Australia, Austria, Brunei, Cambodia, Cote d’Ivoire, France, Ghana, Hong Kong (China), India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States.

The HAECHI III Operation is global in scope, conducted under the aegis of a three-year project to tackle cyber-enabled financial crime supported by the Republic of Korea, with the participation of INTERPOL member countries on every continent.




FATF - Paris, 30 November 2022

Organised crime groups are fuelling a synthetic opioid crisis that has contributed to hundreds of thousands of drug overdose deaths in the past decade.

In North America, the non-medical use of fentanyl is the main driver behind a record number of overdoses and opioid-related deaths. In parts of Africa, a tramadol epidemic is having a significant impact on public health. While across Asia, many countries report a growing number of cases.

This report looks at the way proceeds are laundered from synthetic opioids trafficking. Organised crime groups use a range of methods including bulk cash smuggling, cash couriers, trade-based money laundering and virtual assets (crypto), as well as shell companies and the services of professional money launderers. 

Even though a majority of countries identify drug trafficking as a major predicate offence for money laundering, the number of investigations and prosecutions concerning the laundering of proceeds from synthetic opioids trafficking remains low. This report aims to raise awareness about the opioid trade, including the use of precursor chemicals, and the related global financial flows.  It also makes recommendations on the best approaches to detect and disrupt the criminal networks involved. These include:

-Improving risk understanding in this area, including regarding supply chains and the role of the pharmaceutical industry, to develop more robust legal and regulatory frameworks to combat the trade in illicit opioids.

-Training prosecutors and relevant authorities to carry out financial investigations, including in the precursor supply chain.

-Identifying and leveraging existing mechanisms to expand international cooperation between source, transit and destination countries to identify and disrupt synthetic opioid supply chains.

-Using public-private partnerships to raise risk awareness, of dark web marketplaces and virtual assets (crypto), share red flag information and help the private sector better identify and report suspicious activity.

The report includes relevant risk indicators that will help identify potential trafficking of illicit synthetic opioids.   



‘We do not know what we do not know’: law enforcement should speed up in coping with the challenges posed by Web 3.0

SINGAPORE – Law enforcement agencies need to speed up in understanding new forms of crimes emerging from nascent technologies. For example, decentralized metaverses with new ways of communicating and accessing data that law enforcement may not be able to deal with. Non-fungible tokens or NFTs are increasingly permeating financial crimes such as money laundering schemes.

They are hosted on decentralized platforms such as blockchains which pose great challenges to law enforcement due to the potential ability to run without an accountable authority. Law enforcement should look into novel solutions such as open source tools for better data gathering. Moreover, legislation needs to adapt to these changes, which takes time.

The INTERPOL New Technologies Forum: Law Enforcement in Web 3.0, held from 15 to 17 November 2022 at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore, highlighted the risk of law enforcement being outpaced by criminals. Organized in cooperation with the Bavarian State Ministry of Justice, the Forum highlighted that closer collaboration between law enforcement agencies, industry, and academia can help speed up the process of understanding new technologies and their impacts for crime. Through the New Technologies Forum, INTERPOL supports its 195 member countries in identifying and understanding the applied and practical use of the new technologies related to the evolution of the web into Web 3.0.

In his keynote address, Raja Kumar, President of the Financial Action Task Force, emphasized the increasing adoption of privacy-enhancing techniques to decouple links between cryptocurrency transactions and real-world identity. To cope with speed of crypto transactions and how criminals abuse privacy-preserving methods to obscure their identities, Mr. Kumar recognized the importance of adopting a whole-of-society and international collaboration approach to provide a robust response at ecosystem level. How new challenges and criminal techniques emerge so quickly are further complicated by the lack of clarity in regulations and enforcement especially with cross-jurisdiction transactions and crimes.

Another keynote speaker, Patrick Ghion of the Regional Cyber Competence Centre, Geneva State Police, highlighted criminals’ use of new communication vectors. For example, encrypted means of communication, closed-door groups, the need to provide illegal material to enter groups, and secure email providers. Mr. Ghion also challenged participants about preparing now for the threats that perhaps do not yet look realistic but are actually in the horizon, such as problems brought about by space security and brain-computer interfaces.

Regarding space security, for example, the proliferation of satellites may lead to both opportunities and threats for law enforcement. For instance, law enforcement can use satellites for data gathering. However, hacks into satellite communication threaten public safety and security. Meanwhile, brain-computer interfaces will blur the boundaries between reality perception and inducted signals.

The Forum also facilitated various workshops and knowledge exchange sessions where challenges of decentralized marketplace were identified. For instance, lack of accountability, hurdles to evidence gathering, and non-aligned legal frameworks. Law enforcement agencies need to anticipate lower barriers to entry with Web 3.0, which means building decentralized marketplaces will become much more accessible and user adoption will be very rapid and widespread.

As emphasized by various speakers and participants, criminals move quickly, and thus law enforcement agencies should look into tools that would help them move faster. The Forum recognized the need to collaborate in ensuring that technological tools are exploited to crunch massive amounts of data in a scientific, empirical, and reproducible way when conducting investigations. Cross-sector collaboration is also key in providing adequate and top-notch specialized training, which was identified as one of the needs of law enforcement to cope with the speed of crimes evolving in Web 3.0.



TEHRAN – Iran discussed and made agreement with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Russia to combat money laundering and terrorist financing on the sidelines of the 37th meeting of the Eurasian Group (EAG) on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, IRIB reported.

Iran and Uzbekistan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the sidelines of the mentioned event.

Based on the MOU, which was signed by Iran’s Deputy Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Hadi Khani, and the deputy prosecutor general and director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Uzbekistan, the parties agreed to develop working interactions and mobilize existing capacities in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Khani, who is the head of the Iranian economy ministry's Financial Intelligence Center (FIC), emphasized the development of bilateral and multilateral interactions and cooperation with friendly countries.

The MOU with Uzbekistan is the sixteenth memorandum of cooperation between Iran's FIC and the financial information unit of other countries.

Iran, Tajikistan discuss cooperation against money laundering

Also, on the sidelines of the Eurasian summit, Khani met with Tajikistan’s minister of finance.

In this meeting, the official emphasized increasing interactions between the two countries, especially in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Tajik minister for his part emphasized developing cooperation as much as possible and invited the Iranian economy minister to visit Tajikistan.

Tehran, Moscow to expand collaborations in battling money laundering

Khani has also met Yury Chikhanchin, vice president and director of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service of Russia, on the sidelines of the summit to discuss the relative affairs.

In the meeting, the two sides emphasized the need to increase interactions with the aim of a more serious fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, especially the fight against the financing of drug traffickers.

The Russian side, which is the head of the Eurasian regional working group in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), appreciated Iran's actions in combating money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism and said that he would announce Iran's successes to FATF and will do the best of his ability to remove Iran from the black list.

Also, in this meeting, the two sides agreed to discuss the formation of an eastern coalition to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.


TEHRAN – Iran discussed and made agreement with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Russia to combat money laundering and terrorist financing on the sidelines of the 37th meeting of the Eurasian Group (EAG) on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, IRIB reported.

Iran and Uzbekistan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the sidelines of the mentioned event.

Based on the MOU, which was signed by Iran’s Deputy Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Hadi Khani, and the deputy prosecutor general and director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Uzbekistan, the parties agreed to develop working interactions and mobilize existing capacities in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Khani, who is the head of the Iranian economy ministry's Financial Intelligence Center (FIC), emphasized the development of bilateral and multilateral interactions and cooperation with friendly countries.

The MOU with Uzbekistan is the sixteenth memorandum of cooperation between Iran's FIC and the financial information unit of other countries.

Iran, Tajikistan discuss cooperation against money laundering

Also, on the sidelines of the Eurasian summit, Khani met with Tajikistan’s minister of finance.

In this meeting, the official emphasized increasing interactions between the two countries, especially in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Tajik minister for his part emphasized developing cooperation as much as possible and invited the Iranian economy minister to visit Tajikistan.

Tehran, Moscow to expand collaborations in battling money laundering

Khani has also met Yury Chikhanchin, vice president and director of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service of Russia, on the sidelines of the summit to discuss the relative affairs.

In the meeting, the two sides emphasized the need to increase interactions with the aim of a more serious fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, especially the fight against the financing of drug traffickers.

The Russian side, which is the head of the Eurasian regional working group in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), appreciated Iran's actions in combating money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism and said that he would announce Iran's successes to FATF and will do the best of his ability to remove Iran from the black list.

Also, in this meeting, the two sides agreed to discuss the formation of an eastern coalition to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.




24 -25 November 2022

The work of the MENAFATF’s 35th plenary, which was held over two days in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco, was concluded on Friday, 25 November 2022, where it was opened with an opening statement by Her Excellency Mrs. Nadia Fattah, Minister of Economy and Finance in the Kingdom of Morocco, by His Excellency Dr. Jawhar Al-Nafisi, MENAFATF president, and chairman of the Moroccan FIU, and his Excellency Mr. Suliman Aljabrin MENAFATF excutive secertary.

The meeting was chaired by His Excellency Dr. Jawhar Al-Nafisi, MENAFATF president, and chairman of the Moroccan FIU. The meeting witnessed the attendance of heads of delegations, AML/CFT/CPF experts from member countries, in addition to experts from observer countries and international organizations concerned with AML/CFT/CPF, led by FATF, UN, IMF and Egmont Group.

A number of working papers related to mutual evaluation were discussed, including the paper on the amended procedures for mutual evaluations and follow-up processes. in addition to topics related to the plans and development of the MENAFATF’s works, including the MENAFATF’s action plan for 2023, increasing the effectiveness of the MENAFATF, and areas of technical assistance and typologies such as the plan of training programs and webinars for 2023 and the typologies project on the abuse of NPOs and It also adopted the implementation of a new typologies project on ML/TF through legal persons and legal arrangements.

The priorities of the presidency of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania for the group for the year 2023 were also approved, and the Republic of Yemen assumed the position of vice president of the group for the year 2023.

It is worth noting that the convened plenary meeting was precedented by a number of MENAFATF’s working groups meetings virtually during the period from 13 to 17 November 2022, which included the meeting of the MEWG, the meeting of the TATWG, the FIUs Forum, Risk Committee and OFTF. The following are the most important topics discussed in the meetings of working groups held on the sidelines of the plenary:

Mutual Evaluation and Follow-up processes:

Over the course of two days, the plenary discussed a number of topics related to mutual evaluation and follow-up processes. A number of working papers related to mutual evaluation were discussed and approved, including a paper on the amended procedures for mutual evaluation processes and follow-up, as well as a statistical paper on providing experts for mutual evaluation and follow-up processes. The timetable for the follow-up process for the first round and the timetable for the follow-up process for the second round were also approved, in addition to discussing other working papers related to the work group’s work.

Technical Assistance and Typologies:

On 16 November 2022, the TATWG discussed areas of technical assistance and typologies from workshops and training programs on topics related to the MENAFATF’s work areas, the plan of training programs and webinars for 2023 and other future projects in the areas of typologies. The working group also discussed a draft report of the typologies project on the abuse of NPOs in TF. A recommendation was submitted to the plenary for adoption. It also adopted the implementation of a new typologies project on ML/TF through legal persons and legal arrangements according to the recommendation submitted by the TATWG.


The plenary was briefed on the report of the Chairman of the FIUs Forum and the most important thing that took place in the 23rd meeting thereof. The plenary meeting welcomed the Executive Secretary of the Egmont Group for attending this meeting, where he affirmed his support for the non-member FIUs of the non-member countries of the Egmont Group and the most important steps taken for accession therein.

The executive secretary of Egmont Group also promised overcoming difficulties and facilitating the accession thereto and focusing the MENAFATF’s strategic plan on the Middle East and North Africa region with a special goal for the region to address all related issues and support the relationship with the MENAFATF and work closely therewith. Among the outcomes of the meeting was also a review of the experiences of a number of member countries in the forum and the exchange of experiences and best practices on “enhancing cooperation between FIUs and the nationally bodies entrusted with fighting corruption”. The first version of which was launched on the sidelines of the forum.

Risk Committee:

The 15th meeting of the Risk Committee was held on 13 November 2022, during which a presentation was made by the MENAFATF’s secretariat on the technical assistance and training program in the field of risks, and a panel with a number of experts in the region on the application of the risk-based approach with relation to new technologies. There were also participations of a number of presentations from member countries and international organizations that aim to share knowledge among the MENAFATF countries, and review the FATF guidance on the risk-based approach to real estate sector. The meeting was concluded with a recommendation to translate the guidance on the risk-based approach to the real estate sector, urging member countries to implement the requirements of the risk-based approach according to the requirements of Recommendation 15 and to follow up on emerging risks.

Operational Experts Forum on Terrorist Financing (OFTF)

The plenary meeting warmly welcomed the new OFTF president, Dr. Ahmed Rashid Al-Dhanhani, Attorney General at the State Security Prosecution in the United Arab Emirates and a member of the National AML/CFT Committee. The Executive Secretary extended his gratitude to the former president, Major General Jassim Mahmoud Al-Mahmoud from the State of Qatar, commending Qatar’s role in putting forward the initiative to establish this forum in continuation of its international contributions to combating terrorism and its financing.

Then the plenary listened to the report of the OFTF chairman and the most important discussion that took place in the 8th meeting for 2023-2024 and its action plan. Whereby presentations by the secretariat and a representative of the UNODC on topics related to risks, methods, trends, challenges and best practices in detecting and preventing terrorist financing operations were also discussed, in addition to the experiences exchanged during this meeting in the areas of parallel financial investigations in relation to TF from both the UNOCT and the United Arab Emirates and the risks of the relationship between organized crime and TF made by the secretariat.



Interior Ministers to intensify fight against cybercrime and environmental crime

WIESBADEN, Germany – The G7 Interior and Security Ministers meeting has ended with calls to intensify the fight against transnational serious and organized crime in close cooperation with INTERPOL.

The Ministers also reaffirmed their 2021 commitment to further develop INTERPOL’s tools and services, including ensuring all member countries have access to the tools they need, providing support and information where appropriate, and coordinating funding to avoid duplication.

An example of where global coordination is essential is combating online child abuse. INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database enables specialized investigators around the world to upload and compare child sexual abuse material to help identify victims and offenders and reveal overlapping investigations.

Victim identification

Currently 68 countries are connected to ICSE, and since its launch 13 years ago, the database has assisted in the identification of more than 31,000 victims and 14,000 offenders worldwide.

INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the sheer number of victims makes international cooperation essential in combating online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

“Any connected child or vulnerable individual is a potential victim.

“The online abuse market, especially live streaming, is global and growing fast. This means there has never been so much evidence for law enforcement to process, making it vital that there is no duplication of effort.

“We need to ensure that all abuse content referral, at the national and regional levels, is fed systematically into the ICSE database in order to help reduce the lag between abuse and rescue,” concluded Secretary General Stock.

Environmental crime

The G7 Ministers also welcomed the significant work of INTERPOL in global efforts to counter crimes affecting the environment, and committed to taking action to combat illicit finance generated by these crimes.

According to estimates by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, countries currently intercept and recover less than one per cent of global illicit financial flows.

In September, INTERPOL and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) launched a joint initiative to deprive criminals of their illegal gains, marking a turning point in global efforts to recover illicit assets.

INTERPOL has developed its global stop-payment mechanism, the Anti-Money Laundering Rapid Response Protocol, which since January 2022 has already helped member countries recover more than USD 120 million in criminal proceeds from cyber-enabled fraud.

Illicit firearms

In outlining their support to Ukraine in its reconstruction efforts, in the field of security authorities the G7 Interior Ministers also highlighted the need for cooperation with INTERPOL.

To address the expected proliferation of illicit arms in the post-conflict phase, INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock outlined the value of INTERPOL’s Illicit Arms Records and tracing Management System (iARMS) database.

With more than a million records, iARMS can help identify firearms trafficking patterns and smuggling routes and has assisted in tracing official weapon stockpiles diverted by Da’esh out of Iraq to the Caribbean and other regions.

Police worldwide can record illicit firearms in the iARMS database and can search seized weapons to check if they have been reported as lost, stolen, trafficked or smuggled. INTERPOL alerts can also be issued to its 195 member countries.

The system, financed by the European Union, also allows tracing of recovered/seized firearms in order to identify the exact moment when and where the weapon was diverted into illegal possession and to identify, through analysis, potential trafficking patterns, routes and traffickers.



Bangladesh and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), a legal framework that can open up a new horizon of political and economic cooperation in the future.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and GCC Secretary General Dr Nayem Falah M Al-Hajraf signed the MoU in Manama, Bahrain on the sideline of Manama Dialogue on Friday.

Under this framework, Bangladesh and GCC will hold regular consultation for political, economic, cultural, climate change, agriculture, food security, and environment protection cooperation.

Before signing the MoU, Momen and Al-Hajraf held a meeting that was also attended by foreign ministry secretary (east) Mashfee Binte Shams and Bangladesh ambassador to Bahrain Md Nazrul Islam.

The GCC, a union of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, is home to about 50 lakh Bangladeshi migrants. There are scopes for these countries to recruit more skilled workers from Bangladesh, said Momen in a statement yesterday. During his meeting with the GCC secretary general, the foreign minister spoke of an energy security framework with the GCC -- something that is important in the wake of global fuel price hike amid Russia-Ukraine war.

Momen said migrant remittance is a major source of foreign currency, but money laundering or use of informal channel for remittance is harmful for both the GCC countries and Bangladesh. He stressed that GCC and Bangladesh can work jointly to address these issues.



27 suspects arrested and massive amounts of drugs, cash as well as luxury vehicles and properties seized in two-part operation

Spanish authorities have arrested 10 persons suspected of being involved in drug trafficking and money laundering in the second phase of an operation supported by Europol. The Guardia Civil carried out house searches in a number of cities, which led to the disruption of a criminal network providing financial and technical support to other criminal groups in Europe. Europol, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency and several countries* were involved in bringing down this organised crime group. 

*Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Türkiye and the United Kingdom

The first phase of the action took place less than a year ago in Barcelona and was decisive in obtaining conclusive evidence against this criminal organisation. Following an analysis of devices and documentation seized on the first action day, investigators were able to link 10 people with bringing 117 tons of hashish and over 3 tons of cocaine into Spain. During the second phase of the action, the Guardia Civil raided venues in Barcelona, Ceuta, Almería and Malaga, where the suspects of Spanish, German and Moroccan nationality were apprehended. Among them is the main suspect’s lawyer, who specialises in cases related to drug trafficking.

Impressive list of seized valuables and criminal assets

In total, Spanish authorities arrested 27 suspects in the two-phase action, who were relying on assets such as 39 phones, a satellite phone, 8 computers, 3 microphone scanners as well as a cash counting machine to conduct their criminal activities. The most tangible of the items seized include 14 tons of hashish, 5.1 tons of cocaine and more than 1 million EUR in cash, which are now in the hands of law enforcement. 

The organised crime group clandestinely imported boats and powerful engines from the Netherlands, made them ready on a ship off the coast of Portugal, and then used them to collect and transfer the drugs from Morocco to Spain. Three vessels were subsequently seized during the action days, adding to the impressive list of confiscated valuables. These include 11 real estate properties, 5 companies, 36 luxury cars, the contents of 58 bank accounts and 12 luxury watches.

Corporate business structure for money laundering

Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) was decisive in uncovering a variety of methods used to transfer and launder the proceeds generated by drug trafficking. These include the clandestine transport of large amounts of cash, the use of the hawala system to transfer money, and investments in luxury goods such as yachts, luxury watches, luxury vehicles or real estate property and renovations. The criminal network further invested in companies located in several European countries, and used loans and mortgages to businesses to launder illicit funds. 

Europol’s role

Europol has been providing analytical and operational support since 2020 and has helped to establish links with other investigations. It facilitated cooperation with other law enforcement agencies and analysed the business activity and corporate structure used to launder the money. Support was also provided on the spot during the action days by deploying a money-laundering specialist with a mobile office. 

Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol supports the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organised forms of crime. We also work with many non-EU partner states and international organisations. From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer.