Brazil Police Take Down ‘Crypto-powered Money Laundering Rings’
In an official Federal Police announcement, officers explained that they had “dismantled” two groups they claimed had been active in “international drug trafficking.”
The police have codenamed their swoop Operation Bahamut, and arrested at least 11 people.
Almost 30 properties in the four states (Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul) were searched, with officers given the power to seize assets and other items.
Officers think the two groups have laundered a combined total of over $417 million since 2017.
They added that the operation was associated with Tamoios and Brutium, two similar operations in Rio de Janeiro launched respectively in 2021 and 2022.
Police say the rings laundered the proceeds of cocaine sold to buyers in Europe, as well as North America and other LATAM region nations.
The groups allegedly used crypto to launder their funds, and officers say they have shut down an “exchange” in Rio de Janeiro.
The exchange also appears to have facilitated payments to suspected drug dealers based overseas.
Officers also think that the rings used a number of shell companies to make their dealings appear above board.
Up to 20 such companies may have been created for this purpose, the police claimed.
Police said they had seized and frozen some $52 million worth of cash, tokens, and other assets.
Brazilian Police Step up Anti-Crypto Crime Efforts
Officers believe the two groups worked independently of one another, but were both operated by non-nationals.
And police said some of the suspects had been living lives of “luxury” and “lived in high-end properties.”
Many of the suspects drove expensive “imported vehicles,” officers said.
If the suspected ring operators are found guilty of fraud and money laundering, they could face up to 30 years in prison.
Police have stepped up their efforts to shut down suspected crypto fraudsters in recent months.
The masterminds of the suspected crypto pyramid Braiscompany were also apprehended last month while trying to flee into neighboring Argentina.