Tenerife Case: Two Held on Allegations of Laundering 2.2 Million Euro

The National Court’s Criminal Chamber has upheld the decision to keep a man and a woman, arrested in April in southern Tenerife on charges of laundering 2.2 million euros through real estate transactions in what is known as “Operation Stoner,” in prison.

According to police reports, the scheme involved attracting potential investors interested in cannabis-related medical properties through fairs, an online platform, and marketing events with a robust promotional campaign.

Allegedly, the funds promised to investors as high returns actually ended up in the pockets of the detainees, with only a small portion going back to the investors.

Besides the individuals in Tenerife, provisional detention was imposed on seven others across Spain who were suspected to be part of the same criminal group, accused of deceiving people out of 645 million euros using a similar modus operandi.

Authorities also seized bank accounts containing 58,600 euros, 116,300 euros in cryptocurrencies, 106,000 euros in cash, and the aforementioned real estate properties.

The offences attributed to the Tenerife defendants include participation in a criminal organization, aggravated fraud, and money laundering, carrying potential sentences of up to 5, 9, and 6 years respectively.

The Prosecution alleges that the accused were part of a well-organized group that collected money from numerous victims, promising profits until the whole system collapsed due to lack of resources. The funds were not used for cannabis cultivation as promised but diverted for personal gain.

Initial findings suggest that the funds were primarily used to pay interests to initial victims and cover operational costs, with the detained man in Tenerife being a key figure in this criminal network.

The man, who has been with the organization since 2022 as a founding partner, sole administrator, and holder of the Spanish bank accounts, stands accused of laundering the 2.2 million euros by buying three properties in Tenerife.

The National Court’s ruling mentions the man’s personal connections with the dismantled criminal group, citing meetings held in Palma de Mallorca and Helsinki.

The Court states that the contents of seized electronic devices are still under scrutiny, and investigations will determine the veracity of suspicions in due course.

The woman, on the other hand, is suspected of converting cash into cryptocurrencies and managing bank accounts in Cyprus, owning the company through which the money for property purchases was laundered, alongside another accused individual who resides in the same location.

The appeals for the immediate release of both suspects without bail have been rejected, with the court ordering their continued detention in light of the gravity of the allegations.

They are also requesting to only have to attend court every two weeks, or for any other measure to be taken that is deemed “less stressful and detrimental” than the current one. Both individuals were apprehended following a search and seizure warrant at the European and international levels.

The defence argues that there is no risk of escape, particularly as there are no rational indications of criminal behaviour in their actions and considering their strong ties to Spain. They have also been hindered from accessing various procedures crucial for contesting the legality of their detention.

One of the key arguments supporting the innocence of the detainees is that they have never been employed by the entity under suspicion, which is where the money laundering allegations originated.

Additionally, the established roots of the individuals under investigation in Spain are clear, indicating a lack of risk of engaging in criminal activities. They are employed in the real estate industry in Tenerife and have been residents in a southern municipality for several years, where their families are based.

The potential of tampering with evidence if they were released is also dismissed, as the case has been classified as confidential and all relevant materials they could possibly access have been confiscated, making it impossible for them to conceal documents. This is particularly challenging given that two years have already elapsed since the investigations commenced.

Consequently, the defence argues that the prerequisites for provisional detention, which should be grounded on “sufficient and reasonable” criteria, are not being met.

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