The National Police and the Polizia di Stato of Italy, with the support of Europol, have dismantled, with 106 arrests, in the south of Tenerife a gang of the Italian mafia accused, among other crimes, of laundering more than ten million euros from of computer scams carried out throughout Europe.
The dismantled organization laundered money for different Italian mafia clans, such as Casamonica, Camorra napolitana, Nuvoletta and Sacra Corona Unita and in the operation that has led to its dismantling, 16 entries and searches have been made in Spain and two in Italy, discovering one of them a marijuana plantation made up of more than 400 plants, the National Police detailed this Monday in a statement.
Those arrested are accused of belonging to a criminal organization, fraud, drug trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, falsification of documents, injuries, threats, coercion, robbery with violence, robbery, Social Security fraud and illegal possession of weapons.
The investigations began in June 2020 by the National Police, when it was detected that a group of people linked to different Italian mafia clans was settled on the island, whose mission was to launder the money obtained through the multiple computer crimes committed in Spain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania and the United Kingdom.
The organization had a high degree of technicality, which allowed it to cover different forms of computer fraud, such as “phishing”, “smishing”, “vishing”, “sim swapping”, CEO fraud and hacks to commercial companies.
All this reported to the group, according to the police version, more than ten million euros in a single year of investigation. That money, once received in controlled bank accounts, was laundered through their companies or in crypto assets, to later be reported to the mafia organizations. 118 bank accounts have been blocked to date.
The members of the leadership of this criminal organization were erected as an authentic criminal pyramidal structure, and directed a network of captors and hundreds of financial intermediaries, known as “mules”, who, although they were positioned in the lowest places of the organization They were an indispensable link in the complex machinery of money laundering.
This group of criminals had managed to settle and enter different levels of society: business networks, law firms and banking entities, among others.
This level of settlement not only gave the organization impunity for money laundering, but also for the different criminal activities of these mafia groups carried out in Spain.
The police investigations made it possible to corroborate, among these activities, prostitution, arms sales, drug trafficking, kidnapping, fraud, identity theft, document falsification, crimes against Social Security, robberies with force and violence, injuries and even involvement of several of its members in two homicides carried out on the island, the note highlights.
The amount of money they obtained was so high that they managed hundreds of bank accounts that they opened and closed continuously, on one occasion going to kidnap a woman and, after threatening her at gunpoint, taking her to an ATM to steal all the money and open 50 online bank accounts for the organization. Once detained, they threatened the victim and those around him to prevent them from testifying against him.
The extreme violence of this group was also manifested in other criminal actions; they beat up, robbed establishments and extorted both members of the organization who deviated from internal regulations and other people or companies in Tenerife who, for fear of reprisals, did not report, which gave them a significant degree of impunity.
The Police emphasize that this operation has avoided the realization of new scams already prepared, seizing in a single registry more than 80 telephone cards arranged for the carrying out of “sim swapping” and “vishing” crimes, obtaining data on numerous victims of computer scams.
For the mafia, this mode of financing was so important that they sent fugitive members of the Justice of that country from Italy to control their financing activities on the ground and thus supervise the obtaining and sending of money.
Two of the detainees had valid European arrest warrants for 20 years in prison for drug trafficking, robbery with violence and robbery with force. Once settled in Spain, they continued to live thanks to the crime, also having in force arrest warrants issued by the Courts of the Barcelona town of Sabadell and the Tenerife town of Arona for kidnapping and robberies with violence.
It was also common for a member of the Neapolitan mafia leadership to travel to Tenerife to control the operations that were carried out. Each time this happened, the investigators settled in the Canary Islands prepared all the coverage and security measures to avoid the detection of this person in Spain, although the police investigations allowed him to be identified and detained in Italy through a European arrest warrant.
The security measures adopted by these fugitives, aware of their situation and their contacts, as well as the police pressure, led to the operational exploitation being advanced, once the agents confirmed that they were in possession of false documentation and that they were programming their escape from Spain.