An organized crime group specialized in money laundering, whose members were active in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Morocco, has been dismantled.

An investigative judge at the Court of Marseille had been investigating since 2015 the activities of this complex structure involved in transporting the proceeds from drug trafficking, and estimated that at least EUR 300 million had already been laundered. The drugs were sold in France, where the profits were collected and then transported to Belgium and the Netherlands. The criminals’ modus operandi involved the use of cash couriers traveling by car, who would pick up the proceeds from drug trafficking throughout Western Europe (with a collection rate of more than EUR 1 million per month) and transport the cash to Belgium and the Netherlands. The cash was there laundered to Morocco via the Middle East using unregulated financial channels (the Hawala system), leaving no trail for law enforcement investigators.

Europol employed mobile offices to assist national authorities during the action in late November, which was conducted by 450 police officers; 36 arrests took place simultaneously in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Authorities seized more than EUR 2,622,000 in France, EUR 2,800,000 in Belgium and EUR 85,000 in the Netherlands, in addition to drugs, including 20 kg of cocaine in the Netherlands, a quantity of gold worth EUR 800,000, eight cars in Belgium, three semi-automatic weapons (one in France, one in Belgium, one in the Netherlands) and ammunition.