Spain’s National Police have arrested a Colombian national linked to the Cali Drug cartel who is believed to have laundered 6 million euros using cryptocurrencies.
According to an official press release from the Spanish police, the suspect is a prominent Dutch drug trafficker originally from Colombia who is believed to be a representative of the Cali cartel in Europe. The suspect had also been a prominent wanted figure on INTERPOL’s target list.
The suspect is facing charges relating to large-scale money laundering, with authorities estimating that he processed more that 6 mln euros in cryptocurrencies from proceeds linked to cocaine trafficking.
Following his arrest, spanish authorities have seized 85,000 euros in cash, three luxury watches, 15 credit cards which are linked to cryptocurrency accounts, three vehicles as well as computers and mobile phones used by the suspect.
Authorities in the Netherlands seized over $170,000 worth of cryptocurrency, several encrypted cryptocurrency hard wallets as well as various documents and electronic equipment.
The crypto connection
According to the report, investigations began in 2018 when a criminal group was identified in the Spanish province of Malaga. A number of suspects were historical figures in the drug trafficking underworld in various European countries.
Investigations revealed that a prime target who had acted as the main European representative for the Cali drug cartel had fled from the Netherlands to Marbella in Spain to evade ongoing investigations from police in the country. This led to a joint operation between Dutch and Spanish authorities.
Authorities also revealed that the individuals’ modus operandi had changed from being a ‘direct intermediary in drug trafficking operations’ to taking care of money laundering of funds garnered through cocaine trafficking.
The suspect went about setting up a company through which he traded cryptocurrencies. Dutch authorities estimated that he had moved around 6 mln euros through cryptocurrencies. This method also allowed the perpetrators to evade Dutch tax authorities.
Luxury home and items
The ongoing investigations in the Netherlands and Spain eventually led authorities to the location of the suspect, who was found to be hiding out in a luxury home in Marbella.
Authorities then found the various luxury items, cryptocurrency and cash in his residences in Marbella and in the Dutch city of Delft.