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Man involved in alleged trafficking of blood diamonds arrested at Malaga Airport
Crime

Man involved in alleged trafficking of blood diamonds arrested at Malaga Airport

The precious stones are mined in Africa by slaves and then used to finance civil wars. Following the arrest, a large property on the Costa del Sol, the detainee's summer residence, was searched

SUR

Malaga

Monday, 8 July 2024, 11:17

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Police have arrested a Spanish national at Malaga Airport on the Costa del Sol for allegedly helping to smuggle blood diamonds into the country.

Blood diamonds are found in countries involved in armed conflicts and are used for the purpose of financing war costs. These diamonds were obtained by rebel groups which enslaved civilians, who were used as labourers in Sierra Leone's mines, police said in a statement.

The detainee was the designer and coordinator of a business scheme that allegedly allowed the laundering and illegal circulation of blood diamonds in Europe. According to investigators, the detainee's activities directly financed the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), thus sustaining its fight in the Sierra Leone Civil War.

Police launched an investigation in 2020 after a complaint was filed by a victim who allegedly worked as a slave in one of the mines run by the Revolutionary United Front. Agents then discovered the detainee was an employee of a company which allegedly profited from illegal activity related to blood diamonds.

Oversaw a diamond-mining ring in the 1990s

In the 1990s, he coordinated and supervised the actions of an entire business network with headquarters in various locations, including Liberia, and allegedly engaged in the mining, trading and export of diamonds.

Blood diamonds obtained in Sierra Leone were laundered under this scheme as supposedly legally obtained diamonds in neighbouring Liberia. After the illegal procurement of these precious stones, mined mainly in the Kono and Boedu mines, zones controlled by child soldiers of the Revolutionary United Front, the diamonds were then delivered to one of the company's subsidiaries in Liberia.

The delivery was carried out by military personnel of the rebel group, which used this sale as a way of financing the war. According to the investigators, the arrestee was directly involved in the purchase of these diamonds in person, where RUF soldiers would deliver them directly to him.

Once the diamonds had been laundered as legally mined stones in Liberia, they were sold mainly to a Belgian company, which brought them into the European market.

Following their investigations, National Police received intelligence the man had touched down in Spain and arrested him last Tuesday night (2 July) at Malaga Airport. The detainee was travelling from Brazil, where he had been living since 2007.

Cooperation with Brazilian police

National Police said the collaboration of the Brazilian Federal Police "has been indispensable" for the success of the investigation.

Following the man's arrest, a large property on the Costa del Sol, the detainee's summer residence, was searched. Officers seized documentation and electronic devices. On Friday 5 July, the man appeared before a magistrate and was remanded in prison.

Diamonds financed Sierra Leone's civil war

Between 1991 and 2002, a bloody civil war raged in Sierra Leone between the legitimate government and armed opponents, leaving more than 70,000 people dead and 2.6 million displaced.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) sentenced some of those responsible for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes to prison terms, finding that one of the main sources of funding for the civil war was the trade in diamonds mined in open mines in the country, under conditions of slavery and using labour abducted by the opposition forces. The United Nations (UN) Security Council declared the trade in diamonds obtained under these circumstances illegal.

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