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Two members of a criminal group involved in arms trafficking and money laundering arrested in Barcelona

Joint operation by the Tax Agency, National Police, Mossos d'Esquadra and Europol

  • They were involved in the illicit trade in military weapons and had been involved in trade negotiations in other goods destined for other criminal purposes in conflict zones.
  • Two searches were carried out, during which numerous computer media and abundant documentation of their activity were seized.
  • The investigation has been coordinated by the Special Prosecutor's Office against Corruption and Organised Crime.

27 April 2022.- The Tax Agency's Customs Surveillance Service, together with the National Police, Mossos d'Esquadra, and Europol, have arrested two people in Barcelona and in the town of El Masnou for their alleged involvement in the crimes of money laundering and membership of a criminal organisation.The arrested men, who operated from Barcelona, belonged to a transnational criminal group.

The investigation has been coordinated by the Special Prosecutor's Office against Corruption and Organised Crime under the supervision of the Central Court of Instruction number 2 of the Audiencia Nacional.For the development of this investigation, the creation of a multidisciplinary working group has been required, which includes experts in the fields of economics, illicit arms trafficking, technology, trade and international maritime transport;This fact underlines the enormous complexity and difficulty of the research.

The operation is a continuation of a previous intervention which led to the arrest of seven people in the provinces of Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante on 11 November 2020 for their alleged involvement in the crimes of money laundering, membership of a criminal organisation and smuggling of defence and dual-use material.

In that police operation, seven entries and searches were carried out, and important economic documentation, computer equipment and cash were seized.In addition, the judicial authority ordered the seizure of 18 real estate properties and the blocking of more than 50 financial products.In this first phase, the large economic capacity of the organisation in the national territory was determined, identifying money laundering operations in excess of ten million euros.

Since then, investigators have been busy analysing the evidence gathered in the first phase of the investigation.As a result of this analysis, evidence was found relating to the alleged involvement in these criminal acts of two new individuals, the financial director and the commercial director of the business network, arrested in this second phase by order of the Special Prosecutor's Office against Corruption and Organised Crime.

Both formed part of the organised criminal group under investigation, were involved in the illicit trade of military weapons that evaded customs controls, in money laundering in Spain as a result of these criminal activities, and were also involved in trade negotiations for other goods, such as fertilisers, which could be used by third parties for other criminal purposes in conflict zones.

International trade in arms, explosives and defence materials

The criminal organisation - transnational in nature - was made up of individuals of different nationalities, some of whom were based in Spain.This structure concealed, under the cover of a lawful commercial activity, a business of international trade in arms, explosives and defence and dual-use material, which provided them with significant economic benefits that they laundered in Spain using companies and bank accounts abroad as instruments.

The study of the economic capacity of the organisation in the national territory, together with arduous field work by the investigators, has made it possible to identify the members of the network who operated from Spain, demonstrating a prolonged activity over time, with a distribution of functions and tasks among them.The organisation used cargo ships domiciled in tax havens to trade the sensitive goods under investigation.

Due to the international connections of this criminal organisation and its operations, Europol specialists, specifically members of the agency's specialised group on arms and explosives, provided technical support throughout the investigation and revealed any possible international links.

Film of the operation (go to the following website to download the video):

https://we.tl/t-JF9wPfgVSd