The measures are directed against 67 suspected members of a network that has been operating internationally since 2016, reports the Düsseldorf police and the central and prosecution of the Organized Contact Point for Criminal Offenses (ZeOS) in North Rhine-Westphalia. The investigators classify the network as a criminal organization in the area of organized crime. The accused are said to have laundered money from criminal offenses with illegal payment services. According to preliminary estimates, the transaction volume is 140 million euros.
Confiscated luxury cars, watches and gold
Investigators searched more than 80 buildings in 25 cities. They confiscated evidence and assets with a total value of more than two million euros – including luxury cars, high-quality watches, gold and jewelry. In addition to special forces, several hundreds as well as drug and money tracking dogs are involved in the searches, which are still dying in some cities. In Lower Saxony and Bremen, according to the information so far, there were only searches in Hanover and Bremerhaven. The focus of the action is in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Armed robbery and hostage-taking
The investigators also accuse the accused of wrongly drawing social benefits, not complying with social security and tax obligations and helping each other to cover up the crimes. Members of the criminal organization are also accused of committing acts of violence such as armed robbery and hostage-taking in order to collect their claims. One of the accused was taken into custody on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organization abroad. These investigations are separate from the money laundering process.
Chance find: 300,000 euros in a gym bag
According to security circles, the starting point of the investigation was a chance find by the police. Accordingly, officials found after an accident on the A61 in a car 300,000 euros of cash hidden in a gym bag. The central and contact point for the prosecution of organized crimes in North Rhine-Westphalia and the Düsseldorf police will announce further details on the investigations in a press conference starting at 2 p.m. today.