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Exchange bureaus are accused of working for drug-trafficking networks
21.07.09 - 12:02 -

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A group of exchange bureaus engaged in laundering money on Spain's Costa del Sol has been dismantled by police in a five-month-long operation, authorities said Monday.
Police arrested 10 people and seized 11 properties, almost 1 million euros in cash and a dozen luxury vehicles.
The suspects are accused of laundering some 180 million euros for British drug traffickers over the last four years, police officials said Monday.
Authorities began the probe by focusing on the activities of currency-exchange bureaus whose clients tend to be criminal drug-trafficking networks based on the Costa del Sol.
These bureaus were an essential instrument for these organizations given their need to exchange huge amounts of British pounds into large-denomination euro bills.
That method is most effective both for introducing funds into the regular financial flow of the European Union and for paying for drugs that are generally imported from North Africa, as well as for transferring and hiding the money given the greater volume of euros.
Investigators found an extremely large volume of operations changing pounds sterling into euros, confined almost entirely to the Fuengirola area and far out of proportion to the number of British tourists there and the few clients who used the bureaus.

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