Europol, the law enforcement agency of the European Union formed to handle criminal intelligence and combat serious international organised crime and terrorism through cooperation between competent authorities of EU Member States, has carried out a special operation and eventually caught a group of criminals involved in money laundering using cryptocurrency. The crime ring of 11 people laundered more than 8 million euros from drug trafficking.
Europol has coordinated a Tulipan Blanca operation which was performed by Spanish Guardia Civil along with Finnish authorities and Homeland Security Investigation of US. Members of a crime ring, based in Spain, were laundering money made from selling drugs by using credit cards and cryptocurrencies, and then sending money back to Colombian drug dealers.
Tulipan blanca operation by Europol
According to the Europol press release the criminals linked credit cards to the bank accounts, and then some of the criminals travelled to Colombia with credit cards and made several cash withdrawals from the bank accounts.
They [criminals] picked up the illicit proceeds in cash, which were then split into small quantities to be deposited into hundreds of third bank accounts – a criminal method known as smurfing.
Europol Press Release
As a result, 11 individuals were arrested and 137 more are currently under investigation. Reportedly suspects deposited more than 8 million euros in cash using 174 bank accounts.
Europol reported that it has organised special training courses to assist law enforcement officers in identifying the use of cryptocurrencies by organised crime networks.