On 8 May, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) announced the arrest of eight criminals suspected to be associated with a cryptocurrency related money laundering organization that allegedly provides Crime as a Service (CaaS) to other criminal entities. The arrests were made with the help of the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil).
The circuit generally used the cloak of the cryptosphere to hide their money laundering pursuits by passing large sums of illegally acquired money through the financial system from one bank account to another without raising any alarms with the help of their own crypto exchange and ATMs. They also converted the amounts into cryptocurrencies and assets before splitting them into smaller amounts again with the help of their ATMs.
Europol helped the Spanish authorities with the arrest by providing relevant information from their database – first remotely and then finally in real time when Europol experts came to the country on the day of the investigation.
The authorities raided seven houses out of which two were a money exchange office and a cannabis plant. The list of items seized from these sites included about 200 cannabis plants, several electronic devices, documents proving their illegal activities, two crypto ATMs, jewels, eleven vehicles and about €16 800. The investigating team also closed 20 hot and 4 cold crypto wallets, respectively that were allegedly used to store €9 million.
This incident proves the 2017 European Union Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) right. According to the assessment, money launderers are now moving with the tech age offering criminal services online. They carry out crimes on behalf of other criminal entities without having to maintain an infrastructure which was the case with conventional organized crime groups. To put it simply, these criminal individuals set themselves up for hire online where other criminal groups can entrust them with their illicit agendas.