Spain busts smuggling ring selling polluting gases on black market

The ministry said the investigation, which also involved Europol and the European Anti-Fraud Office, started in September when agents discovered a company in Granada that was selling gases illegally imported from China at a third of their market price. Subsequently they uncovered a wider network that used a travel agency in Madrid to accept payments, as if they were for trips, and launder the money.


Reuters | Madrid | Updated: 28-06-2022 17:29 IST | Created: 28-06-2022 17:09 IST
Spain busts smuggling ring selling polluting gases on black market
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI
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  • Spain

Spanish authorities have arrested 27 suspects across Spain and dismantled a crime ring that smuggled and sold highly polluting gases used in fridges and air conditioners, the Finance Ministry said on Tuesday. Law enforcement agents searched 20 homes and 10 companies, seizing 110 tonnes of fluorinated greenhouse gases as well as 364,000 euros ($385,000) in cash, luxury cars and illicit drugs.

Fluorinated greenhouse gases represent the most long-lasting type of planet-warming emissions and while the European Union has been working to phase them out, they are still used to refill older equipment, which has sparked a black market trade. The ministry said the investigation, which also involved Europol and the European Anti-Fraud Office, started in September when agents discovered a company in Granada that was selling gases illegally imported from China at a third of their market price.

Subsequently, they uncovered a wider network that used a travel agency in Madrid to accept payments, as if they were for trips, and launder the money. It also had set up a front company in Portugal that on paper figured as the official destination for imported gas to avoid detection by customs. Those arrested in a total of 11 Spanish provinces face charges of being part of a criminal organization, smuggling, tax-dodging, money-laundering, crimes against the environment, public health and workers' rights.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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