In a joint operation with the Polizia di Stato of Italy and EUROPOL, the Spanish National Police dealt a severe blow to the Italian mafia with the arrest of 106 people in the south of Tenerife. The arrests were made last week.
The accused allegedly belong to a criminal organisation which deals in fraud, drug trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, falsification of documents, injuries, threats, coercion, robbery with violence, robbery with force, Social Security fraud and illegal possession of weapons.
The detainees have also allegedly laundered more than ten million euros in the last year through computer scams carried out throughout Europe.
Investigation started in June 2020
The investigations began on Tenerife in June 2020 by the Technological Crimes Group of the National Police. They detected a group of people linked to different Italian mafias were settled on the island.
The investigation established the group had a high degree of technical ability. This allowed it to cover different types of computer fraud: phishing, smishing, vishing, sim swapping, CEO fraud and hacks to commercial companies. The income, estimated at more than ten million euros, was received into controlled bank accounts and then laundered. To date, 118 bank accounts have been blocked.
Violence, extortion and robbery
The extreme violence of this group manifested in other criminal actions. They beat up, robbed establishments and extorted both rogue members of the organisation and others in Tenerife.
They were also involved in drug trafficking. The police discovered a marijuana plantation composed of more than 400 plants, and a processing centre with an ‘iceolator’ that filters the leaves of marijuana with water and ice to increase its effects.
During one of the searches, officers seized more than 80 telephony cards activated to carry out ‘sim swapping’. For the mafia, this mode of financing was so important they sent fugitive members of the Italian Justice from Italy to control their financing activities on the spot, and thus supervise the obtaining and sending of money.
Two of the detainees had valid European Arrest Warrants for 20 years in prison against them for drug trafficking, robbery with violence and robbery with force. It was also common for a member of the mafia leaders to travel from Naples to Tenerife to control the operations that were carried out.
Single command centre located in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
A police operation was designed, planned and coordinated from the island of Tenerife, carrying out 18 entries and searches of properties and leading to a total of 106 arrests.
The operation brought together the National Police, EUROPOL and Polizia di Stato. There was a direct channel of communication with the judicial authorities of Arona, Bari (Italy), and the Computer Crime Unit of the Supreme Court.
During the operation, agents seized a stun gun, €12,615 in cash, 402 marijuana plants in different stages of development, two precision weighing scales, material for the distribution of cannabis, 118 blocked bank accounts, 224 bank cards, and numerous mobile phones, laptops, computers and other electrical devices.