MADRID, September 20 (Reuters) – Spanish and Italian police announced Monday that they had arrested 106 people belonging to a gang that allegedly laundered money for mafia groups and made millions of euros through online fraud.
Most of the alleged members are Italian nationals and the majority of the arrests took place on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife, Europol said in a statement.
According to the Italian police, the suspects persuaded their victims, who were also mostly Italians, to transfer large sums of money to Spanish bank accounts controlled by the group.
This money was then laundered through purchases of cryptocurrencies or reinvested in other criminal activities such as prostitution, narcotics or arms trafficking.
The group made a profit of around 10 million euros (US $ 12 million) last year, Europol said.
Members of the organization, which often used violence to intimidate victims and extort money from companies and individuals, have infiltrated various areas of Spanish society, including banks and law firms, Spanish police said.
During the operation, Spanish and Italian officials blocked 118 bank accounts and confiscated 224 credit cards and a marijuana plantation.
Twenty of those arrested have been jailed pending judicial investigation – 18 in Spain and two in Italy, Spanish police added.
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Reporting by Nathan Allen; Additional coverage from Emma Pinedo; Editing by Hugh Lawson
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