Crackdown on money mules laundering cash for drug gangs under way
Those found guilty facing sentences of up to 14 yearsin prison
A crackdown on money mules laundering cash for drug gangs is under way with those found guilty facing sentences of up to 14 years in prison.
Gardai are involved in 200 investigations as part of a Europol operation involving up to €1.8million.
Detectives have now identified 659 money mule accounts as well six recruiters and prevented an estimated loss of close to €2million.
Like drug mules, those who are recruited are used to transfer money through their own bank to accounts operated by criminals in other countries. The mules are paid a small fee but when caught they risk long sentences for assisting gangsters involved in serious crimes, including murders.
The Garda successes are part of a worldwide operation led by Europol and law enforcement authorities from 26 countries which resulted in 422 arrests.
It also identified 4,031 money mules alongside 227 recruiters, preventing a total loss of €33.5million. This week a DontBeaMule campaign was launched to raise awareness among the public.
In a statement, the Gardai said: “We continue to appeal to the public, particularly students and younger people, to never authorise any individuals or groups to utilise their bank account, ATM card, or pin number, advising that there are consequences including arrests, charges and convictions for persons acting as money mules for organised crime groups.
“This action is financing drug and people smuggling, terrorism and prostitution, among many other offences.”
In recent weeks it emerged 30 people, 16 of whom were under 18- are facing charges for allegedly allowing criminals to use their bank accounts to withdraw and deposit dirty money.
Of these, 18 are male, 12 are female and they are located all over Ireland. The youngest is just 15 and the oldest is 38.
It has also emerged that young people are being preyed on in schools, colleges, online and via social media and are told they will receive a cut of the cash if they authorise the use of the account.
But they usually end up with very little for their trouble except the prospect of a conviction.