Drug trafficking and money laundering network dismantled in Portugal and Spain

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An international criminal network of drug trafficking and money laundering, active for eight years in the European Union and South America, has been dismantled in Portugal and Spain and 20 suspects arrested, the Judicial Police (PJ) said today.

Operation Montana was the result of cooperation between the Spanish and Portuguese police authorities, coordinated by Europol, which carried out 13 searches and 20 arrests on March 6 and 7.

The criminal network used stolen identities of Colombian, Portuguese, Spanish and Venezuelan citizens and is suspected of laundering more than 10 million euros.

According to the PJ, the network had been investigated since 2021 by the Spanish authorities – Mossos d’Esquadra and the National Police -, with an indication of the participation of Portuguese citizens, who transported the money and then deposited it in national bank accounts, held by Portuguese people with links to the Portuguese diaspora in Latin America.

In Portugal, two house searches were carried out in the Ílhavo and Aveiro areas, targeting the main suspect, who transported money from Spain to Portugal and who received instructions from the ringleaders of the criminal network to collect the money in Spain.

During transportation to Portugal, the money was hidden in the suspect’s vehicle and then deposited in Portuguese banks, in accounts held by other suspects, who belong to the Portuguese diaspora in Latin America, especially Venezuela.

The main Portuguese suspect did not live at his tax address in Ílhavo, but with his family in a “luxury villa” in the Aveiro area, owned by a company in his wife’s name, which was the target of searches, according to the PJ.

In the course of the searches, more than 40,000 euros in cash, money-counting machines, jewelry and gold bars, bank documents, a firearm and written notes were seized which, according to the PJ, link the detainee to money laundering from drug trafficking in Spain.

‘Operation Montana’ resulted in the seizure of 156,000 euros in cash, gold bars valued at 35,000 euros, 50 vehicles, jewelry and luxury watches, and the blocking of more than 100 bank accounts and 10 properties worth more than three million euros.

“The Spanish and Portuguese authorities are continuing their efforts to identify and locate other citizens involved in this money-laundering scheme,” the PJ said in a statement released today.

Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert is a 55-year-old writer and journalist based in Porto, Portugal. Born in France, he brings a unique blend of French and Portuguese perspectives to his work. Education Hervé studied Journalism and Literature at the University of Lyon in France. After completing his studies, he gained valuable experience working with various French media outlets (Portugal France also). Career He worked for several years as a journalist in France before making the move to Portugal. In Porto, he joined the Portugal Pulse team as a staff writer. Skills Hervé specializes in storytelling, investigative journalism, and cultural commentary. He has a flair for capturing complex issues in a relatable way. Personal Life He currently resides in Porto and enjoys the city's rich culture, from Fado music to Francesinha cuisine. Hervé continues to maintain strong ties to his French heritage, often traveling back to France for family visits and cultural exploration. With his unique background and diverse skill set, Hervé Hubert adds a layered, multicultural lens to every story he covers.

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