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MAFIA

Police arrest 11 Russians in Marbella for money laundering

The owner of Marbella football club was one of 11 Russians arrested in connection with laundering more than €30 million ($35 million), Spanish police said Wednesday.

Police arrest 11 Russians in Marbella for money laundering
Guardia civil follow a person held in custody during a raid targeting the Russian mafia in the Puerto Banus. Photo: AFP

The gang is accused of using the club, as well as a water bottling company and a golf course in the coastal province of Malaga, to hide dirty money.    

The arrests were made on Tuesday, police said.    

Spain has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals involving politicians of all political stripes, businesses and football clubs.   

Alexander Grinberg bought Marbella football club when it was facing financial difficulty in 2013.

Police said he used the club and his properties to gain favour with political and business leaders in the region, home to the Costa del Sol.    


A member of the Spanish Guardia civil stands on boat during a raid targeting the Russian mafia in the Puerto Banus marina area of the southern resort of Marbella. Photo: AFP

Officers searched the headquarters of the football club, which is in Spain's third division. The club sent a message of calm to its supporters after news emerged of the arrest.

In total, officers carried out 18 searches, seizing a large amount of cash, 23 high-end cars and firearms.

Spanish police said an investigation into corruption and organised crime, launched four years ago, has led to the break-up of the Spanish branches of the major Russian crime groups Solntsevskaya and Izmailovskaya.


Members of the Spanish Guardia civil speaks with a person held in custody during a raid on a boat targeting the Russian mafia in the Puerto Banus. Photo: AFP

MAFIA

Spanish police strike blow to Camorra mafia crime network

Spanish police said Tuesday they had broken up a violent branch of Italy's Camorra crime group which they believe stole hashish from rival drug traffickers in Spain and then transported it to Rome in motorhomes.

Spanish police strike blow to Camorra mafia crime network
An officer discovers a hidden chamber in the vehicle. Photo: Guardia Civil

The authorities arrested 14 people in the operation, which had “completely broken up” a branch of the Camorra's “Marranella” clan which operated on Spain's southern Costa del Sol, a police statement said. Another seven people are under investigation, it added.

Police said the group obtained most of the hashish which it then sold on the streets of Rome through violent thefts from other drug traffickers in Spain. 

The group also bought hashish in Spain with the aid “of a group of British citizens” based in the southern province of Cadiz.   

“To carry out these thefts, members of this organisation used extreme violence, not hesitating to use firearms to kidnap other area drug traffickers,” the statement said.

The drugs “were transported to Rome by road, hidden inside rented motorhomes, with the trip carried out usually by a man and a woman hired by the organisation, to appear as if they were a couple on vacation and not raise suspicions during any police controls.”

The organisation was led by a father and his two sons who belonged to the Camorra's “Marranella” clan.

The 14 suspects who were arrested include British, Italian, Spanish, Romanian and Dominican nationals. Some were wanted fugitives in their home countries.   

The authorities seized half a tonne of hashish in Spain, Italy and France as part of the operation, which was carried out in cooperation with Italian police.

The Camorra, which is based in the Naples area, is one of Italy's three main organised crime groups, along with Sicily's Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the mafia, and the 'Ndrangheta, centred in the Calabria region.

Camorra bosses refer to Spain's Mediterranean coast as “Costa Nostra”, or “Our Coast”, alluding to the “Cosa Nostra”, according to Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, a specialist on the Naples criminal underworld.

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