Europe: Drug dealers used Hawala, gold laundering to move millions monthly
13 Feb 2019

Police in France and Italy have swooped in on suspected members of a gang that operated a ‘complex’ network which involved moving dirty cash to Algeria from Europe.

The criminal cash flows are estimated at €5 to €7 million per month.

“Money originating mainly from drug trafficking and tax evasion was collected by couriers in different cities in France, before being laundered via two distinct schemes – via the Hawala system, allowing the transfer of money without any physical transportation of cash – and via gold laundering, whereby part of the cash money collected was sent to Italy to buy gold from unscrupulous business intermediaries,” Europol said.

“The gold was then transported back to France and Spain in order to be exported by sea to Algeria, where the masterminds behind this scheme were based.”

When police conducted the raids, 19 suspects were arrested and some €550 000 in cash seized, alongside several luxury watches and vehicles, Europol explained, adding that authorities in Algeria seized gold with a value of almost €1 million.

The coordinated raids took place simultaneously in a number of French locations such as Paris, Marseille and Orvault, and in Italy the financial police targeted Florence, Brescia and Rome.

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