At least 74 people have been arrested by the Spanish police in a broad operation to break up Chinese gangs that are engaging in money laundering and fiscal fraud.
The operation, in which more than 300 officers participated, was centered mainly in Madrid and Barcelona, but law enforcement authorities also acted in other Spanish provinces to serve 108 arrest warrants.
Authorities seized 202 vehicles, along with a large amount of cash, and conducted raids on homes and cargo ships.
Among those arrested was the alleged head of the network, Chinese citizen Gao Ping, Socialist councilor Jose Borras, who is in charge of security for the city of Fuenlabrada, outside of Madrid, and porno movie actor Nacho Vidal, police spokesmen told Efe.
Gao Ping, an important Chinese businessman and owner of an art gallery in Madrid near the Queen Sofia Museum, was intending to make himself into a "bridge" between Spain and China with business activities related to art.
The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office and the Spanish National Court - the court that handles special crimes - are in charge of the operation, one of the largest launched against money laundering and fiscal crime in Spain, according to judicial sources.
The agents carried out 120 raids, half of them in Madrid, mainly in the industrial zone of Cobo Calleja, an industrial zone in Fuenlabrada, which houses more than 350 wholesale distributors and is the largest commercial center of Chinese businessmen in Europe.
Gao Ping was the owner of this center containing assorted establishments and from where products imported from China were distributed, including costume jewelry and handbags that are sold at up to 110 different retail outlets in Spain and throughout Europe.
The investigation was begun two years ago and focused mainly on the industrial zone, where authorities noted the arrival of containers from China packed with low-priced products that were to be sold in Spain at Chinese-run stores.
The investigation into fiscal crime, smuggling and money laundering, was launched because - among other things - some of that merchandise was not properly declared to Spanish fiscal authorities, judicial officials told Efe. EFE