Spanish police frustrate Mocro Mafia establishment in Catalonia

by Lorraine Williamson
Mocro Mafia
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BARCELONA – In a large-scale joint operation, the Dutch and Spanish police, together with the Catalan Mossos d’Esquadra, have frustrated the attempt by the ‘Mocro Mafia’ to settle in Catalonia. €2 million were seized during the operation. 

The operation against this dangerous criminal organisation, was carried out with simultaneous raids in the Netherlands and Catalonia. The epicentre of the outfit is in the Netherlands and Belgium. Therefore, the Dutch police (IRC The Hague) also participated. 

Two top members of the mafia group have been arrested in The Hague, and a third person in Mataró (Barcelona). In addition, four people are still under investigation. 

Seized weapons, money and goods 

Firearms and ammunition and approximately €2 million have been seized in the Netherlands. With this, the group has bought apartments, luxury goods and high-end vehicles. These have then been laundered in Spain through intermediary companies. The suspects are linked to the crimes of money laundering, drug trafficking, illegal possession of weapons and membership in a criminal organisation. 

The speed and agility in the cooperation of the SIRENE office in Spain and the impetus and support given to the investigation by the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Barcelona have been crucial in accelerating the investigation between the two countries. Thus, the operation prevented this Dutch Mocro Mafia from settling in Catalonia. Here they planned to launder money from drug trafficking through various companies and the purchase of goods. 

Investigation

The multidisciplinary investigation began in February 2021 with the establishment of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) between the National Police and Mossos d’Esquadra. This team looked for clues to crimes involving violent robbery in ATMs using explosive gases in several EU countries. 

In January 2020, two ATM robberies were committed in Catalonia using explosives. It became known through the European Union’s inter-police coordination systems that a person of Dutch descent could have been behind these robberies. 

From that moment on, the National Police and Mossos d’Esquadra started a joint investigation into the main suspect who lives in Catalonia and into the aforementioned robberies. Subsequently, this brought to light a possible criminal organisation of Dutch origin that had established itself in Catalonia. 

Several European Investigative Orders (OEI) were subsequently issued by the investigating judge 2 of Mataró. This was to confirm that the main suspects within the organisation were responsible for facilitating the members of the Mocro-Mafia and its establishment in Spain. 

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What is the Mocro Mafia? 

The so-called “Mocro Mafia” is the result of the settlement in the Netherlands and Belgium of different clans. Furthermore, these mainly consist of people of North African descent. These clans are particularly dangerous because of the violent methods they use in their business. Moreover, they seem to be on the rise and spreading their influence in other countries of the European Union, including Spain. 

The tentacles of the Mocro Mafia connect them to criminal organisations from all over the world. There is also increasing activity in the port of Rotterdam, the most important in Europe in the field of freight transport by sea. Predominant here are the links with criminal groups active in the hashish trade in North Africa, and in South America in connection with cocaine trafficking. 

The potential danger to members of the criminal organisation is apparent from the type of weapons and ammunition found. In particular, several semi-automatic pistols and a revolver to protect the narcotics they traded with and large amounts of cash. These were stored in buildings controlled by the gang in Catalonia. 

Also read: Largest drug trafficking organsation in Europe dismantled

Money laundering 

The organisation was in the process of setting up a structure that would allow the laundering of large drug profits. After two years of extensive investigation by collaborating police units, it was possible to identify the companies that used the criminal organisation to launder the acquired goods. The connections with the Netherlands with which the suspects carried out various money laundering operations were also uncovered. 

On October 13, Mossos d’Esquadra and Policia Nacional agents travelled to the Netherlands to carry out several house searches. Simultaneous house searches were also carried out in Spain. These resulted in the seizure of bank accounts, high-end cars, jet skis, jewellery, and certified gold coins. This was in addition to the discovery of approximately 2 million in cash (Euros and Swiss Francs). 

Two of the most important persons under investigation, who were arrested in the Netherlands, have been imprisoned there. Four others are still under investigation. More arrests are not excluded. 

Also read: Largest production lab of counterfeit banknotes in Europe dismantled

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