The Spanish National Police, supported by the Italian National Police have concluded a major operation against the Italian Mafia in Spain.
The authorities revealed they raided 16 premises and arrested 106 people suspected of belonging to several mafia clans including the Casamonica, Camorra Napolitana, Nuvoletta and Sacra Corona Unita.
The Spanish network was involved in widespread online fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking and property crime activities.
The suspects, who were centred on the Canary island of Tenerife, are believed to have defrauded hundreds of victims through phishing attacks and other types of online fraud such as SIM swapping and business email compromise before laundering the money through a wide network of money mules and shell companies in Spain and abroad.
Last year alone, their profits are estimated to have been about €10 million.
The investigation found that the mafia used extreme violence and intimidation to control their network of “mules” who were indispensable for the success of the operation.
The network was very well organised in a pyramid structure, which included different specialised areas and roles.
Among the members of the criminal group were computer experts, who created the phishing domains and carried out the cyber fraud; recruiters and organisers of the money muling; and money laundering experts, including experts in cryptocurrencies.
The mafia were also engaged in a number of other illegal activies including the selling of weapons and drugs, prostitution, kidnap and robbery.
One woman mule who was forced to open 50 bank accounts for them was threatened with a pistol and taken to ATMs on the island to withdraw the cash.
The authorities have frozen 118 bank accounts associated with the operation as well the seizure of hundreds of bank debit cards.
Two of the detainees have European arrest warrants outstanding for drug trafficking and violent robbery crimes.