The Civil Guard and the Tax Agency have dismantled two criminal groups that had defrauded more than 150 million euros in the hydrocarbons sector, dismantling the largest network linked to the fraud of buying and selling gasoline to date.
21 people have been arrested, intervened two million liters of gasoline and blocked 300 bank accounts of the more than 1,000 analyzed in an operation carried out in the provinces of Castellón, Valencia, Lérida, Girona and Madrid.
The plot focused on the non-payment of VAT in the wholesale of hydrocarbons through more than 300 instrumental companies and frontmen. "These are the two most powerful companies that supplied gas stations nationwide," according to detailed Lt. Col. Antonio Balas, head of the Economic Crime Group of the Central Operating Unit (UCO).
The 'Operation Drake', which dates back to 2015, has been the "biggest blow" against this type of network, since has left "practically to zero" the capacity to operate in Spain of these instrumental companies to defraud with the purchase and sale of hydrocarbons, as explained by this police command in a press conference together with José Manuel Alarcón, head of the National Fraud Investigation Office (ONIF) of the Tax Agency.
The police proceedings led the UCO agents to break into two of the four towers at the end of Paseo de la Castellana, from where both criminal networks operated, the largest detected to date.
14 of the 21 detainees were arrested in Madrid, where 15 searches were also carried out. All are at liberty with precautionary measures after being placed at the disposal of the Central Court of Instruction number 4 of the National Court and the Court of Instruction Number 5 of Getafe (Madrid).
The two organizations had the appearance of legality – the relationship between them is investigated – and were led by Spaniards, some of them with similar criminal records, who were in charge of acquiring important quantities of petroleum products to national and international wholesalers.
Researchers believe that most of the gas stations related to the operation are located in the "central zone" of Spain. The UCO has requested that do not criminalize the entire sector, including gas stations with low cost price claims. "It would be unfair, it's not like that," said Lt. Col. Balas.
"We have been raising the issue of acting against those gas stations that in the end are what sustain this entire chain," added the police command, stressing that the client portfolio often passes from one to another criminal organization when one of them is detected and dismantled. .
To raise awareness about the relevance of this type of operations, the lieutenant colonel has compared the fraud of 150 million with his equivalent in25 tons of cocaine of what would be the most powerful organization linked to drug trafficking; or with the cost of the reform of the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, which would be paid and "there would still be money for a couple of Ferraris and two yachts".
In addition to the more than 150 million euros of detected fraud, a total of 292 companies and 150 individuals, analyzing 1,085 bank accounts and proceeding to the registration of 22 homes. 61 high-end vehicles, two ships and two million liters of gasoline have also been seized. The blockade of 347 bank accounts and 155 properties has also been processed.
The researches have made it possible to detect the systems used by the schemes to whitewash the benefits derived from a fraud that the researchers consider basic in relation to the operation linked to the VAT, although complex because of its network of companies and figureheads or the use of cryptocurrencies and evasion to third countries. At the time of police exploitation, an oil tanker was intervened in a port loaded with hydrocarbons that ended up sold at gas stations.