Chinese mafia suspects to appear in court in Spain
Dozens of suspects arrested in Spain as part of a probe into Chinese gangs suspected of tax evasion and illegally laundering millions of euros are to appear in court for questioning on Wednesday.
Among those arrested in raids carried out across Spain on Tuesday was Chinese businessman and art gallery owner Gao Ping, Spanish porn actor Nacho Vidal and Jose Borras, a local city councillor from Fuenlabrada in southern Madrid.
So far, 83 people have been detained in the operation, including 58 Chinese nationals, 17 Spaniards and eight people from other countries, national police director Ignacio Cosido told a press conference.
One suspect was detained in Germany and more arrests could be made outside of Spain in the coming days as the operation remains open, Cosido added.
“We are talking about a historic operation, a very important operation in the fight against economic delinquency,” he said.
Over 500 police took part in “Operation Emperor”. They seized 10 million euros (US$13 million) in cash in dozens of raids across the country as well as some 200 vehicles, and froze bank accounts of more than 120 people.
The investigation began two years ago and focused on the Cobo Calleja industrial zone in Fuenlabrada, considered the biggest Chinese wholesale hub in Europe.
The industrial zone is known as a source of cheap goods imported from China and sells shoes, clothes, jewellery and other wholesale goods to Spanish businesses, as well as distributing them across Europe.
Spanish prosecutors said the racket was made up of traders who sold contraband goods in Spain, laundered the money and transferred it to China.
Chinese gangs are also suspected of channelling money from rackets involving prostitution and extortion to tax havens with the help of Spanish and Israeli intermediaries.
Gang members are thought to have smuggled cash bound for China by train and car and used front companies such as karaoke bars and restaurants.