The British-Irish suspect is believed to have laundered more than $200 million in illicit cash.
Police have arrested “one of Europe’s biggest money-launderers” following a raid in southern Spain, saying the British-Irish suspect transferred more than 200 million euros ($200 million) of illicit cash.
The operation, led by Spain’s Guardia Civil and coordinated by Europol, is seen as a significant blow against the notorious Kinahan organized crime group, which United States law officials have called a “threat to the entire licensing economy”.
Europol said the prime suspect in the case was taken into custody on Monday “as a result of an international law enforcement operation led by the Spanish Guardia Civil”.
“Two of his associates were arrested in Spain and one in the United Kingdom,” Europol said in a statement on Thursday.
John Francis Morris
Europol did not name the suspect, but a source close to the investigation and Irish newspapers said he was 62-year-old John Francis Morrissey, a known associate of the Kinahan gang.
Based out of Dubai, the Kinahan crime group – led by Irishman Daniel Kinahan – “smuggles deadly drugs into Europe, including cocaine, and threatens the entire licensing economy through its role in international money laundering”, US Treasury Department Under Secretary Bren E Nelson said.
Law officials said Morrissey sold a brand of vodka along Spain’s tourist-heavy Costa del Sol, allegedly to hide his whitewashing activities, law officials said.
He also served as an enforcer for the Kinahan Cartel and helped with drug shipments from South America.
,[Morrissey] and its associates were in charge of collecting large amounts of cash from criminal organizations, which they would ‘distribute’ to other criminal organizations in other countries,” Europol said.
underground banking system
Europol said, using the so-called Hawala underground banking system, which works on a face-to-face transaction basis, “suspects are believed to have laundered over 200 million euros using this method”.
Europol spokeswoman Claire Georges told AFP news agency Morrissey was “one of our high-value targets”.
“His arrest was followed by a complex investigation,” she said.
The investigation was led by the Spanish Guardia Civil, who worked with the British National Crime Agency, the Dutch Police, the Irish Guarda and Europol, which coordinated the international operation.
Earlier this year, the US Treasury Department cleared the Kinahan crime family, as well as Morrissey and several other alleged accomplices of the group.
The US Treasury Department said in April that Morrissey was “designated to materially aid, sponsor, or provide financial, material, or technical assistance, or goods or services for or in support of the Kinahan Group”.
Serving as a “brand ambassador” for Nero Drinks, a British-based company that manufactures premium vodka, Morrissey was “heavily invested in the company”.
However, Morrissey has “given a significant portion of the business to Daniel Kinahan to offset the loads of drugs confiscated by law enforcement”, the US Treasury Department said.
“The main members of the organization in Spain created a brand of vodka promoted in nightclubs and restaurants in the Costa del Sol in order to hide the source of their earnings,” Europol said.
“One of the arrested suspects ran a car dealership and was in charge of providing the vehicle to the criminal organization, in which he built hidden compartments to transport large amounts of cash,” Europol said.
Monday’s arrest actually came as Spanish police launched an investigation early last year after confiscating 200 kg (440 pounds) of cocaine and 500,000 euros ($500,000) in cash, in hidden compartments in vehicles used by the gang. are placed.
“The matter was brought up expeditiously to Europol due to its international nature,” the agency said.
Credit: www.aljazeera.com /