Five arrested in international money laundering investigation

An Antwerp investigation into an international criminal organisation involved in drug trafficking has led to five arrests for money laundering and trafficking in counterfeit jewellery.

A total of 20 searches were carried out in Belgium as part of an investigation that began in October 2022. The investigation was triggered by the interception of a parcel containing 600g of cocaine destined for Israel at Brussels Airport.

Antwerp police tracked down a gang that had travelled to Israel, China, Italy, Austria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The members were allegedly selling counterfeit jewellery on a large scale.

Counterfeit jewellery

The criminals ran a gold shop on the French-Belgian border where they bought stolen jewellery, which they transported to Antwerp's diamond district and melted down in an illegal smelter.

The criminals, who rented an office in Antwerp's Empire shopping centre, are also alleged to have imported high-quality counterfeit jewellery and watches from China.

On Tuesday, the police carried out 20 house searches in Antwerp, Edegem, and Ixelles. Thanks to international cooperation, raids were also carried out in the Netherlands, Israel and Slovakia. Eleven people were arrested in Belgium, and four others abroad. The investigating judge ultimately arrested five suspects.

During the raids in Belgium, investigators seized 165 watches, jewellery and counterfeit goods, possibly forged certificates, an alarm gun, 10kg of melted gold and 200 small diamonds.

Abroad, they found crypto ledgers, jewellery, 14kg of drugs and an automatic firearm with a silencer. 232,000 euros in cash and seven luxury cars were also seized.


#FlandersNewsService | Illustrative image © AFP PHOTO / SARKAR DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AFP

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