Underground bank that laundered €180 million in drug money taken down

By Gangsters Inc. Editors

European authorities backed by Europol disrupted a large-scale money laundering and underground banking system last month, Europol reported April 13. At least €180 million in illicit profits generated by cocaine trafficking had been laundered by the criminal network, which consisted of Moroccan, Spanish, and Belgian nationals.

The criminal network was active in Belgium and branched out to the Netherlands, Spain, South America and Dubai. Its members had set up a complex and professional system to launder illicit profits generated by importing cocaine via ports and airports into the EU.

During a coordinated action day in March 2023, law enforcement arrested five suspects in Belgium, another suspect in Spain, and seized various criminal assets. The criminal network had relied on investments in cryptocurrencies and the distribution of cash via an underground banking system. A main money laundering method was via investment in luxurious real estate projects in the EU, as well in several Moroccan cities.


Law enforcement started to look into the case in October 2021, after analyzing decrypted SKY ECC messages indicating the presence of a large-scale criminal network importing cocaine and laundering illicit profits. The investigation revealed large amounts of cocaine trafficked from various South American ports to several maritime ports and airports in Europe.

By using contact persons at these various entry points, the organization succeeded in importing several tons of cocaine and selling it on for a massive profit. Using a professional and flexible approach, involving methods such as the use of cover companies, the criminals managed to evade the authorities until the decryption of the SKY ECC network.

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