Italian tax police announced on Tuesday that they had arrested 58 individuals in Italy and Spain as part of a major operation targeting international drug trafficking, money laundering, and fraud. The criminal network in question was responsible for supplying approximately 30 million tonnes of hashish and marijuana, with transactions totaling around 42 million euros ($44.2 million) involving Italian and Spanish suspects, as well as individuals of Albanian and Chinese origin.
The investigation honed in on the utilization of shadow banking services operated by individuals of Chinese descent. These individuals were found to be collecting funds in Italy for subsequent transfer to Spain, all while earning a commission for their services, as per the disclosures made by Italy's Guardia di Finanza police.
Notably, Italian authorities have underlined the growing significance of such unlicensed money brokers in concealing cross-border payments executed by drug cartels. This issue bears a resemblance to challenges faced by their American counterparts, particularly in connection with Latin American narcotics organizations.
The arrests on Tuesday were carried out in various cities across northern Italy, including Milan and Turin, extending south to Rome and Catania in Sicily, as well as in Spain. To support the operation, police teams, along with sniffer dogs, initiated searches at 96 different locations, spanning parts of Italy, neighboring Switzerland, and Spain.
This significant joint effort between Italian and Spanish law enforcement agencies underscores the ongoing battle against transnational criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking and the vital role played by unlicensed money brokers in facilitating these illicit activities.
By fLEXI tEAM