A joint operation between Spanish, Portuguese, and Europol authorities has led to the arrest of 20 members of a sophisticated criminal network involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.

The network, active for over eight years, is suspected of laundering €10 million through a combination of digital and traditional methods.

The bust of this international criminal network exposed the sophisticated techniques used to launder money in the digital age.

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Initially sparked by a 2018 cocaine seizure, the investigation uncovered a complex web of transactions crafted to hide the illicit origins of the group’s funds.

Key money laundering methods employed included the use of money mules to break down large cash sums into smaller deposits, a process known as “smurfing” designed to avoid regulatory scrutiny.

The network also created numerous shell companies to simulate legitimate business activities, providing cover for the movement of funds. Finally, they relied on cars with hidden compartments to physically transport cash across borders between Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon.