This week, law enforcement the world over made sure it is no festive season for online scammers, fraudsters, and money launderers as INTERPOL intercepted millions in illicit financial flows and arrested over 1000 suspects; Australian state police detained more suspects and seized drugs and guns in an ongoing operation; and the wife of jailed Mexican drug kingpin, El Chapo, accepted jail time for her role in his drug trafficking empire.
Find out more on these stories below.
INTERPOL’s global collaborative anti-money laundering operation spanned 20 countries, every continent
Codenamed HAECHI-II, the four-month operation resulted in 1,003 arrests and the interception of $27m (£20,26m) of illicit finances. Co-ordinated by INTERPOL, it ran from June to September 2021 and pooled the expertise of specialist law enforcement agencies from 20 countries, as well as the jurisdictions of Hong Kong and Macau.
The operation targeted cyber-based financial crimes including online and investment fraud, romance scams, and money laundering through illegal online gambling. It involved law enforcement agents from INTERPOL member states on every continent.
Among the successes of HAECHI-II were:
- 1,003 suspects arrested.
- The closure of 1,660 cases by law enforcement agents.
- The blocking of 2,350 cybercrime-linked bank accounts.
- The publication of 50 INTERPOL notices.
- Identifying 10 previously unknown modus operandi of online financial crime.
HAECHI-II is the second operation of a three-year enterprise run by South Korea which targets cyber-based financial crime. It was also the pilot test for INTERPOL’s fledgling Anti-Money Laundering Rapid Response Protocol (ARRP).
Reflecting on the successes of the operation, INTERPOL secretary General Jürgen Stock noted the role played in the global cybercrime surge by Covid-19, adding that “only through this level of global cooperation and coordination can national law enforcement effectively tackle what is a parallel cybercrime pandemic.”
Read more on this story at INTERPOL.
South Australian police arrest 18 on drug trafficking and money laundering charges
Police in Adelaide, South Australia, have recorded another 18 arrests on charges which include drug manufacture and trafficking, money laundering, false imprisonment, and assault. Police also searched six properties in the state’s capital, seizing firearms, anabolic steroids, and small amounts of various recreational drugs.
The raids were part of the ongoing Taskforce Ironside investigations, with the latest round of arrests being for alleged crimes dating back to April 2019. The South Australian Police (SAPOL) claim that the suspects were spotlighted through their use of ANOM, an encrypted messaging app once popular with criminals the world over until the revelation that it was surreptitiously run by law enforcement agencies in a global sting operation earlier in 2021.
Detective Chief Inspector Darren Fielke of SAPOL’s Serious Organised Crime Branch voiced a stern warning to criminals using ANOM, stating that “those individuals who used the AN0M platform to engage in criminal behaviour should not be so comfortable to think that they have avoided being arrested and brought to account.”
Operation Ironside is ongoing.
Read more on this story at ABC.
El Chapo’s wife to serve time on drug-related money laundering charges
The 31-year-old wife of jailed Mexican drug czar, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, will spend three years in prison and undertake a subsequent four-year supervised parole period. Emma Coronel Aispuro, who is also the mother of nine-year-old twins with Guzman, will also forfeit $1.5m (£1.13m) as part of the sentence handed down earlier this week.
Ms Aispuro was arrested at Dulles International Airport, Virginia, in February 2021. She has been detained since then. In June 2021 she pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking and money laundering while part of Guzman’s vast criminal enterprise. She will accrue credit for time served in the interim.
The judgment was notable in that the federal prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi sought a shorter custodial period than stipulated by sentencing guideline recommendations for such offenses. Mr Nardozzi cited her minor role in the narcotics operations, referring to Ms Coronel as “a cog in a very large wheel of a criminal organization."
The judge added that Ms Coronel was a minor when she became involved with Guzman, which mitigated his ruling, and wished her “good luck” with raising her twins.
Mr Guzman, meanwhile, is serving life plus 30 years, and is currently incarcerated in a maximum-security penitentiary in Florence, Colorado.
Read more on this story at CNN.
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