04 February 2014
A suspected network of specialist money launderers, which helped criminals hide millions of pounds, has been targeted in an international operation coordinated by the National Crime Agency.
Over 250 officers in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Bulgaria and Spain carried out raids early this morning.
Cash totaling around £500,000 and diamonds worth approximately £100,000 were seized following searches of safety deposit boxes and properties across London. Five men and three women were arrested and are now being interviewed.
Dozens of addresses were searched in the other countries and six people have been detained.
The NCA believes those arrested have laundered millions of pounds, through a complex web of offshore bank accounts and property investments, for overseas-based criminals involved in the supply of drugs.
NCA Operations Manager Ed Thomson said: “Tacking criminal finances is key to cutting serious and organised crime.
“Drug traffickers need to launder their profits but doing it can be their Achilles heel. If we can get between them and their money they are unable to fund their lifestyles or invest in further drug deals. The disruption to their activity is huge.
“We believe our multi-agency operation has dismantled the money laundering arm of a well established organised crime group we are targeting as part of an ongoing investigation.”
The large quantities of financial records and digital material seized during the searches will now be analysed by NCA experts.
The NCA has received assistance from the South African Police, the State Agency for National Security and Office of the Prosecutor General in Bulgaria, and the Spanish National Police.
Those arrested in the United Kingdom were a 72-year-old-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman from Richmond Park; a 55-year-old man and a 49-year-old woman from East Sheen; a 58-year-old man from Maida Vale; a 39-year-old woman from St John’s Wood; a 55-year-old man from Pinner; and a 65-year-old man from Bushy.