Federal police yesterday make six arrests in a case invoving a criminal gang responsible for laundering €18 million in cash for other criminals.
The prosecutor’s office in Halle-Vilvoorde, which covers crimes carried out at Brusssels Airport, has been on the case since 2019, according to reports. Then, a number of cash couriers were picked up at the airport, attempting to carry large quantities of Euros and pounds sterling to Istanbul.
Five people were arrested between September 2019 and January 2020, in possession of cash to the value of £785,615 (about €910,000). In July 2020 one person was apprehended in possession of no less than £150,000 in one case alone.
Investigators reasoned that since the couriers always followed the same procedure, they were probably dealing with a criminal organisation, and they followed the traces back to an international gang, operating from Brussels, made up mainly of Belgians of Turkish origins.
Further investigation, with the help of Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency led by former Belgian chief police commissioner Catherine De Bolle, revealed that the organisation has tentacles that reach into the Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain, all taking commissions to launder criminal money via Turkey though Belgium.
The money, as far as can be told, comes from criminal activities such as counterfeit goods, illegal tobacco and drugs.
Yesterday 19 search warrants were carried out in Brussels, Ghent and Zele in East Flanders, at the homes of alleged members of the gang, suspected clients and a bank deposit box belonging to a member of the organisation.
Six people were arrested, a number of goods taken into custody and bank accounts frozen.