Europol closed down a criminal organization, which used cryptocurrencies to launder money on a Finnish crypto exchange.
In an operation dubbed Tulipan Blanca, 11 individuals involved in moving money from Spain to Colombia using credit cards and several cryptocurrencies were arrested in a joint operation by authorities from Finland, Spain, the United States and Europol.
The criminal ring split up drug money into small quantities of cash and deposited it into hundreds of bank accounts, then traveled to Colombia with associated credit cards to make cash withdrawals.
Over €8 million in cash was split between 174 bank accounts, however the criminals soon found cryptocurrencies as a much better alternative.
“Once the criminals realised that cash withdrawals and bank operations were easy to track, they changed their laundering methods and turned to cryptocurrencies, mainly bitcoin,” a statement from authorities said.
The criminals used an unnamed local cryptocurrency exchange to convert cash into Bitcoins, which they then exchanged for Colombian pesos.
Europol established a working group with Interpol to combat money laundering through cryptocurrencies, last year and stressed that they are continuing their work.
“With cryptocurrencies increasingly used to finance and carry out criminal activities, Europol will continue to coordinate across EU Member States and beyond, to effectively respond to this rising threat,” the agency said.
“Europol has organised specialised training courses to assist law enforcement officers in identifying the use of cryptocurrencies by organised crime networks.”
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