A drug seizure in the port of Rotterdam in 2019 led to a number of follow-up operations carried out in Spain by the Guardia Civil, the national police and the tax agency. The investigation led to the identification of a Valencian businessman who laundered money for a Mexican cartel.
The original case resulted in the confiscation of two and a half tonnes of metamorphine and 17,000 liters of chemicals used in the manufacturing process. Information obtained by authorities in Rotterdam on an heir to the Mexican cartel of the Beltrán Leyva clan was shared with Spanish authorities and ultimately led to the raids this week.
The searches that took place in Barcelona resulted in the arrest of 16 people, including a Valencian businessman who allegedly laundered the money from the sale of drugs. As a result, nine bank accounts were frozen and property and assets were seized both locally and in the Netherlands.
Known as Operation Eboli-Bacterium, the shipments confiscated in Amsterdam came from Barcelona, where they had been billed by a local company.
The investigation carried out with the local firm revealed that behind the operations was the representative for Europe of one of the groups of the former Beltrán Leyva cartel. The Sant Boí de Llobregat company was supposed to focus on importing aerated thermal concrete blocks produced in Mexico.
The drugs were hidden in the center of a third of the concrete blocks, with the cocaine pills introduced through a small hole. The method used has been proven to be foolproof for some time as the block construction makes sweeping impossible with the concrete type producing millions of air bubbles. Scanners used by port authorities are unable to see through air bubbles.
Without the raid in the port of Rotterdam, the Spanish authorities would not have been aware of the contents of the block.
The hunt for money laundering has proven to be very complex with a financial and commercial network that has moved large sums of money from the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. The funds were then cascaded over a number of accounts before being distributed.
News that police have arrested a Valencian businessman who laundered money for a Mexican cartel is testament to the value of cross-border police operations.
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