Some of the 615,000 euros seized. SUR

Organised crime hit as seven arrested in Malaga for financing Albanian drug traffickers

In total, 27 people were arrested in different Spanish provinces who were allegedly involved in drug trafficking and money laundering using the Hawala method

Irene Quirante

Friday, 22 September 2023, 14:29


Seven members of a drug and money-laundering network have been arrested in Malaga provice. According to National Police they moved millions of euros to finance various Albanian criminal organisations. They allegedly did this using the Hawala method and had become a kind of bank for other drug traffickers, to who they transferred and hid large amounts of money from the sale of drugs. The National Police, in a joint operation with Europol, dismantled the network after the arrests in Malaga and with 20 other detentions in the provinces of Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Valencia.

The gang, led by Albanians, was dedicated to the trafficking of narcotic substances, mainly the planting of indoor marijuana crops. According to the investigators, the ringleaders had Chinese members to jointly launder money from other gangs so that they could continue their criminal activity.

Criminal intelligence reports sent by Europol warning of the presence of the organisation sparked the beginning of the investigation, which was taken over by the National Police. During the investigations, the officers found that, in this structure, Chinese nationals delivered large sums of money in cash to their businesses in China bypassing the checks and measures in place in Spain.

In the same way, the police established that the Albanian members acted as if they were a bank, transferring and hiding large sums of money from the sale of drugs finance new operations.

The ringleaders were two Albanian men, one acting as leader and the other as lieutenant and accountant. According to the investigations, since at least 2018 they had two Chinese coordinators who were in charge of managing a large portfolio of Asian businesses spread throughout Spain.

During the period under investigation, between May 2020 and March 2021, multiple deliveries of cash were made to Albanian criminal organisations amounting to a total of almost 65.5 million euros. During searches, some 615,000 euros in cash, ten luxury watches worth more than 400,000 euros, two high-end vehicles, money counting machines, computer equipment and encrypted mobile phones were seized.

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