Russian police and security forces have uncovered and arrested a criminal group that laundered over 100 billion rubles ($3.3bn, €2.5bn) through banks in Dagestan near the Caspian Sea, the Interior Ministry said.
The operation climaxed with a raid at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, during which 20 suspected members of the group were detained while unloading the cash. Police shot out the tyres of the suspects’ armoured van to stop them escaping. Nobody was reported hurt during the operation.
Having operated for at least seven years, the group was transferring the money through short-lived shell companies to accounts in Dagestani banks, where they withdrew the cash and brought to Moscow by air on a regular basis. Part of the money came in the form of cash from shopping malls and Dagestani markets.
Laundered funds were then distributed to customers in Moscow.
Police conducted more than 15 searches at offices and apartments owned by the suspects, discovering evidence such as fake car licence plates, entry and exit permits for Uytash airport in Dagestani capital Makhachkala and Vnukovo airport. More than 350 kilos of cash (around 600m Rubles, €15m) and 12 firearms and assorted munitions were also found.
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