Dismantled a criminal organization dedicated to the fraudulent sale of saffron in Castilla la Mancha

The operation has allowed 17 people to be detained and another 13 have been investigated and entries and searches have been made in various premises, commercial warehouses, clandestine workshops, offices and homes of those investigated

Half a ton of saffron yarns and styles, high-end vehicles, machinery for the production of merchandise and other evidence of the crimes committed have been intervened.

The organization had an infrastructure at the European level, with a complex business and financial network

A joint operation of the Civil Guard, National Police and Customs Surveillance of the Tax Agency, has allowed to dismantle a criminal organization dedicated to the fraudulent sale of Iranian saffron as Spanish saffron. So far, 17 people have been arrested and another 13 have been investigated, accused of alleged crimes related to the market and consumers, fraud, forgery, against public health, tax fraud, money laundering. of capital, smuggling and criminal organization.

The investigation began in 2019 when it became known of the existence of several people and companies based in Ciudad Real that imported saffron, mainly from Iran, through a wide business network that operated internationally. Throughout the months that the investigation has lasted, it has been found the existence of a group of companies that, through the introduction in Spain of significant quantities of mainly Iranian saffron, later made it pass as Spanish saffron. Through the sale of saffron among the companies themselves, they gave coverage to the product, and labeled it as Manchego and Spanish, due to its quality recognized throughout the world thanks to its designation of origin of La Mancha, so its sale was guaranteed both in the national and international market.

Floral remains and colorants not authorized for consumption

Likewise, this saffron was mixed for the most part with floral remains, styles and stamens that should not be sold as saffron, increasing the sales volume; They even used colorants not authorized for consumption by the European Union or the United States, to tint the final product, confirming the purchase of several tons of this substance.
By means of this way of acting, they not only managed to significantly increase their profits, but they have caused enormous economic damage to the Spanish saffron sector, preventing other companies in the sector from competing on equal terms, with the prices set by the investigated companies.

More than 200 bank accounts analyzed

The network had also created a complex structure to hide benefits from the Public Treasury and launder money, for this it carried out complex national and international financial operations, as well as numerous real estate purchases. The extensive investigation carried out has revealed that members of this criminal organization had acquired more than 35 homes in Spain, through Iranian powers of attorney, granted in favor of those investigated, which allowed them to act on behalf of people, who appeared as legitimate owners , and in reality, they were mere front men. It was found that they had money in any country of the European Union, as well as in the United Arab Emirates, for which more than 200 bank accounts have been analyzed, and information has been requested from 20 different countries of the European Union. Therefore, the collaboration of EUROPOL has been essential.
Finally, the investigation culminated with the entry and registration in various premises, commercial warehouses, offices and homes in the provinces of Ciudad Real and Albacete, where they intervened: 6 high-end vehicles, a van, watches and jewelry, half a ton of stamens and styles, machinery for the weighing, mixing and fraudulent labeling of saffron, as well as other evidence and indications that demonstrate the illegal activity. In the same way, the existence of more than two tons of saffron of Iranian origin was found, most of which would be sold abroad, making it pass as a Spanish product. Even in the registry of one of the houses a clandestine workshop was located that did not have sanitary authorizations for packaging and labeling.
The investigation continues with the analysis of the large amount of intervened documentation. Thanks to it, the group of companies involved in the crimes under investigation has been delimited.
Units of the Ciudad Real Civil Guard Command, the National Police Force, the Customs Surveillance Unit and the IT Audit Unit of the Ciudad Real Tax Agency have participated jointly in operation with the support of the Europol National Unit.


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