French and Spanish authorities crack down on Chinese money laundering gang. Prolific criminal network believed to have had the capacity to smuggle over one million euros in cash per day


Five members of an alleged Chinese criminal network have been arrested this week in Spain as part of a joint law enforcement investigation supported by Europol.

Between 2 and 3 July, a dozen searches of homes, company headquarters, commercial warehouses and restaurants were carried out. The searches involved some hundred Spanish police officers who were supported on the ground by French Judicial Customs investigators and Europol experts. The searches took place in Madrid, Valencia, Alicante, and Barcelona.

The head of the criminal network is among those arrested. Close to EUR 160 000 in cash was seized during the searches.

The investigation was initiated in February 2021 by the French authorities after the French Customs in Perpignan seized more than half a million euros in cash hidden in a vehicle equipped with a concealed compartment.

The investigation conducted by the French National Anti-Fraud Office (ONAF) under the direction of the specialised interregional jurisdiction (JIRS) of Marseille resulted in the uncovering of a money laundering network. Composed of Chinese nationals, the criminal network is believed to have been operating across Europe since at least 2019. This prolific criminal network is believed to have had the capacity to smuggle over one million euros in cash per day.

These sums came from a number of illegal activities, including the trafficking of counterfeit goods, tax and customs fraud, and prostitution. The criminal network relied on a sophisticated network of logistic experts who would facilitate the movement of the cash across Europe.

This operation was carried out with the financial support of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT).

The following authorities took part:

France: National Anti-Fraud Office (Office national anti-fraude – ONAF)

Spain: National Police (Policía Nacional)