The Spanish Civil Guard, within the framework of the PERSEA operation, has arrested 6 people belonging to a criminal group, formed by a family clan, dedicated to laundering money obtained from drug trafficking by buying avocado farms and works of art.
In the operation, in which 13 searches have been carried out in the towns of Algeciras, Los Barrios, Seville and Marbella, 555,270 euros and 200,000 Swiss francs have been seized. 52 properties valued at 1,743,646.52 have been preventively blocked and 380,000 m2 of agricultural production dedicated to avocado valued at €1,940,000 have been judicially intervened. In addition, 17 vehicles valued at €332,697.29 have been intervened and 35 current accounts have been blocked.
The investigation began in September of last year, when the agents detected an increase in assets in the family nucleus of a person investigated and convicted of drug trafficking in previous years.
During the operation, a business network was investigated in which more than 35 bank accounts with more than 31,600 movements of all kinds had to be analyzed. With these movements, he had created the ringleader’s sentimental partner, a network of luxury goods stores to hide and introduce profits into the financial circuit. Thanks to cash injections, these companies manage to reach the top of the business in a short time.
From the analysis of the bank accounts, the Civil Guard detected a large investment of money that one of its members had made with money from drug trafficking in the cultivation of avocado. Subsequently, more investments were discovered in hectares of avocado plantations under the control of those involved.
In this way, those involved banked a large amount of money without raising suspicions, since all the investment made with money from drug trafficking in avocado production was going to multiply in a few years in profits of legal money. It should be noted that this strategy had already been used by Mexican drug traffickers in their country.
Money laundering with the simulation of avocado sales
Continuing with the investigations, the agents determined that the farms that the suspects had bought had small trees planted, so their fruit did not have the size or quality necessary for sale. Those investigated bought the harvest from other owners with illicit money, to later sell them to a cooperative, of which they had previously become partners, as their own production and thus culminate the money laundering with the simulation of the sale of avocados as if it were owner.
On the other hand, the brother of the main person under investigation created shell companies in order to acquire real estate with cash of illicit origin. In the search of their homes, in Seville and Algeciras, the agents found works of art, some renowned (about 50 between paintings, engravings, sculptures and ceramics), gold watches, a gold ingot valued at about 56,000 euros and money cash. These works of art were also used to launder illicit money. The seized works are found between the 17th century and the present day and are under judicial disposition and are awaiting appraisal.
With this operation, a business network has been exposed, from the textile, agricultural and real estate sectors that has been able to introduce and transform, in the last 10 years, a total of €4,154,659.2 of cash.
The investigation has been carried out through the Investigating Court No. 5 of Algeciras and the Commanders of Algeciras, Malaga, Seville and OCON-SUR, CRAIN, GAR and GRS have participated.