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Eurojust coordinated a large case on selling cannabis cultivation tools to foreign buyers

The Hague, 27 January 2011

On the morning of Tuesday, 25 January 2011, police arrested five people on suspicion of laundering, forgery and selling the raw materials necessary for cannabis cultivation to foreign buyers. Searches took place at 25 locations in the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Aruba. Accounting records and goods such as expensive automobiles, houses, business premises, stocks, money and jewellery were seized at various locations.

Over 450 police officers participated in the action to conduct early-morning searches at 25 locations. “Grow shops”, business premises and houses were simultaneously raided. Three suspects were apprehended in two houses in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

The investigations concentrated on suspected punishable offences committed involving the “grow shop” in Wijchen, Netherlands. The suspects are believed to have forged and laundered proceeds originating from organised cannabis cultivation. At least three suspects are also suspected of cannabis cultivation and trafficking, committed between 2002 and 2008. In addition, the suspects may have facilitated the cultivation of cannabis in a foreign country by supplying materials/goods supporting cannabis cultivation and/or setting up cannabis nurseries. The suppliers are believed to have known the ultimate destination of these materials, and of their intended use in cannabis cultivation. In general, “grow shops” are considered the focal points of cannabis-related organised crime.

The Dutch authorities requested the Spanish authorities to co-ordinate the investigative measures to take place in Costa Brava, Catalonia.

In Sant Feliu de Guíxols, several suspects were wiretapped; the police also conducted surveillance, and identified the locations where the drug-related properties and bank accounts were located.

The Mossos d'Esquadra of Catalonia (judicial police) were in charge of the operations. Two house searches were carried out in Calonge, and a luxury automobile, jewellery, money and two villas were seized.

BACKGROUND
In September 2009, the police began an investigation into a “grow shop” in Wijchen, Netherlands, after observing suspicious money flows and financing structures employed by the “grow shop”. In the first instance, the investigation was focused on tracking the laundering of money earned via prior cannabis-related offences. Later, investigators harboured reasonable belief that the suspects were also guilty of (illegal) cannabis cultivation both within and outside the Netherlands because of their facilitation of cannabis nurseries. This large-scale investigation relied upon the excellent co-operation of multiple parties, including the Gelderland-Zuid Police Force, the Public Prosecution Service in Arnhem, the Dutch tax authorities, the City of Wijchen, the Regional Criminal Investigation Service, the Asset Recovery Unit of the Public Prosecution Service, the Dutch National Police Agency. Police and judicial authorities in the Czech Republic, UK, and Germany were also consulted.

The seized goods may have been purchased with laundered capital. In addition, the seized goods may be used as collateral for the execution of a pending confiscation order.

On 01 December 2010, Eurojust hosted a co-ordination meeting to facilitate co-operation between the Dutch and Spanish authorities and to co-ordinate the cross-border actions.

Mr Arend Vast, National Member for the Netherlands, commented: “I am very pleased with the constructive way the Dutch and Spanish authorities worked together. The case focused both on the investigations and on the confiscation of illegally obtained profits, and the freezing orders were handled successfully.”

Mrs Teresa Gálves Díez, Deputy National Member for Spain, added: “The efficiency of the Eurojust co-ordination meetings with other countries involved is the best support for national authorities. Regarding the money-laundering cases in Spain, Dutch authorities provided excellent co-operation and co-ordination. The key to successfully managing this case was the perfect timing of all parties involved and the advance co-ordination.”

For more information, please contact:

Mr Joannes THUY, Spokesperson - Head of Press & PR Service
EUROJUST, Maanweg 174, 2516 AB, The Hague, the Netherlands
Tel +31 70 412 5508
E-mail: jthuy[AT]eurojust.europa.eu