Simultaneous arrests in Spain, Finland, Romania and Malta

Dismantled a transnational network dedicated to the laundering of the benefits obtained by the management of prostitution websites

A total of six people have been arrested – three of them in Spain – in an operation that has been developed jointly in several countries, five of them entering in provisional prison

The organization, formed mostly by Finnish citizens whose members in Spain were based in Torrevieja (Alicante) and Marbella (Malaga), used websites related to prostitution to obtain great economic benefits, more than 40 million euros in the last years

The agents have closed the server and redirected the 16 web pages they used, blocking all bank accounts and seizing the shares in companies that the organization had in at least 15 countries

The operation has been coordinated by Europol and Eurojust, requiring the creation of a joint investigation team with Finland and Sweden due to the magnitude of the criminal activity, issuing seven European investigation orders and five letters rogatory and registering a total of 17 properties , six of them in Marbella

July 10, 2019.- The National Police – in a joint operation with Europol, Eurojust and different police forces of other countries – have carried out a macro-operation against a transnational network dedicated to laundering of proceeds from trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation and procuring in Nordic countries. The operation has resulted in the arrest of six people, one of them in Torrevieja (Alicante) and two in Marbella (Malaga), while the rest has been carried out in Finland, Romania and Malta. Five of the detainees have been imprisoned.

The organization, formed mostly by Finnish citizens whose members in Spain were based in Torrevieja and Marbella, used websites related to prostitution to obtain great economic benefits. The magnitude of the criminal activity has led to the creation of a joint research team (JIT) together with Finland and Sweden, seven European research orders have been issued in Romania, Malta, Bulgaria, Estonia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany, as well as five rogatory commissions to the United States, Russia, Hong Kong, Panama and Colombia.

Volume of business in Nordic countries

At the beginning of 2016, the National Police dismantled a network of Nigerian origin dedicated to trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation based in Torrevieja (Alicante). In that operation, 23 people were arrested, 14 of whom were placed in provisional detention without bail, and 15 victims were released. As a result of the investigations, the agents identified and linked a criminal network established in our country, dedicated to the management, maintenance and publicity of women who worked as prostitutes in different websites of international scope, whose turnover was mainly in Finland and Sweden. , countries where pimping is punishable.

In this way, the money that Nigerian women sent to the criminal network that dismantled the National Police in 2016 was intended to publicize sexual services on websites. These pages and the sexual ads they contained were mainly managed by a Finnish citizen with a history in his country for aggravated pimping. Due to the necessary international cooperation and the size of the network, in that same year a joint research team (JIT) was created under Eurojust between Spain, Finland and Sweden.

Payment of commission for advertisement or photograph

The work of this team has allowed the realization that criminal networks specializing in trafficking in human beings used these web pages to publicize their victims. In this way they made their exploitation profitable, especially in the Nordic countries, emphasizing that a large part of the monetary flow came from the intermediaries themselves.

If a woman or dealer wanted to advertise in any country, they contacted intermediaries in third countries, who indicated the amount to be paid weekly along with the commission and they were informed that they were managing the ads and photographs, reaching use images of "apparently more attractive" women. For the collection, linked accounts were used with screen companies whose final recipients were those now detained. Once the payment was received, the sexual content ads were updated on the website and, similarly, if a client intended to access the women's contact, he had to pay a certain amount of money.

At least, more than 40 million euros of profit

For money laundering, they used innovative computer platforms to open bank accounts through applications that allowed them to open a bank account in several countries in a few minutes and thus hide the money easily. In addition, they were dedicated to the creation, use and purchase of complex business networks, which were distributed throughout Spain, Romania, Finland, Estonia, Hong Kong and Panama, as well as the purchase of cryptocurrencies in the Netherlands.

Being aware of the detainees of the Finnish legislation regarding procuring, they moved their personal address and scope of action to Spain, where they established the server of the website and 15 other websites managed by their criminal environment, and opened personal bank accounts. on behalf of companies. Initially the area of ​​operations was Torrevieja (Alicante), but finally the network of companies is transferred to Romania. Researchers estimate that, at least since 2010, they would have obtained an economic benefit that would amount to more than 40 million euros. In fact, the volume of business in Finland of the page occupied more than 75 percent of the volume of business of the prostitution, reason why to be advertised in pages of this type was fundamental for the obtaining of clients.

The accounts linked to the criminal organization were related to criminal activities such as trafficking in human beings and money laundering. The professionalization of this criminal organization stands out, whose members extreme security measures in their communications, daily commutes in high-end vehicles and the use of encrypted instant messaging.

"The old Internet pimps"

The head of the organization was widely known by the Finnish police and had already been arrested for similar acts. The others were known in their immediate environment as "the old Internet pimps."

The investigations confirm that at least the websites were functioning since 2005, but it would be in 2010 when the detainees would be linked to the sexual content of accounts that have already been blocked by the National Police.

To carry out the operation in a coordinated manner and based on international judicial and police cooperation with the support of Eurojust and Europol, three European arrest warrants have been materialized for the most responsible in Finland, Romania and Malta and 17 entries and registrations , of which six were in Marbella (Málaga), three in Romania, two in Malta, four in Finland and two Honkg Kong.

Servers of websites of sexual services have been intervened, hard disks of great capacity to manage them, computers, tablets, telephones and other encrypted devices, 28,000 euros in cash, 9 high-end vehicles, documentation of tax havens, fantasy passports, numerous jewelry and watches and documentation related to private contracts or bank accounts.

In addition to the 6 arrests, the server has been closed and the 16 web pages used by the network have been redirected from web registrars in the USA to a website created by the General Directorate of the Police and designed by Europol. Likewise, all the bank accounts that the criminal organization had spread throughout Spain, Finland, Malta, Romania, Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Russia, Estonia, Sweden, Panama and the People's Republic of China, have been blocked, together with the embargo of the participations in six companies. In Finland the movable property and the amount of 422,000 euros have been blocked, while in Hong Kong more than 1,500,000 euros have been blocked in bank accounts that were trying to launder their criminal activities.

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