AN INTERNATIONAL money laundering lynchpin has been arrested in Ireland, accused of being a so-called “mule herder” for the notorious “Back Axe” organised crime group.
So much cash was being handled in a property that is suspected of being controlled by a main player in the Black Axe fraud organisation that steel doors have been erected at the house for protection.
The suspect, aged in his 20s, is suspected recruiting others to be money mules and managing their bank accounts in scams across Norway, Germany, the US (including Hawaii) and Ireland.
Detectives from Ireland’s National Economic Crime Bureau investigating Black Axe gang operations seized a Range Rover SUV valued at €100,000 and 30 mobile phones in an operation in Dublin.
The gang’s infrastructure in Ireland is so significant that some senior members operate from offices.
The international operations of the ‘Black Axe’ transnational crime gang will be discussed at the ‘Fighting Online & Cyber Fraud Summit 2023’ taking place in Dublin on November 29 next. The summit will feature the top international speakers in the field. More information and registration details can be found on the Events section of the ‘AML Intelligence‘ homepage, above.
The arrested “herder” is suspected of controlling 50 ‘money mule’ bank to launder the proceeds of frauds by the gang. The money mostly came from bogus text message-based scams. The suspect is believed to have taken receipt of €196,000 into his own bank accounts via the mule accounts.
He was detained after gardaí (Ireland’s national police) carried out a search at a house on Monday in the west city suburb of Tallaght.
Another man in his 50s – suspected of being a more senior member of the gang – was also arrested during the search operation for immigration offences and he is being held pending his removal from the country.
Also recovered was a number of passports, bank cards and account details, details of registered companies and businesses, cash in euros and dollars, a cash counting machine and computers.
Gardaí said that “up to 50 different money mules are identified as having laundered over €196,000 through bank accounts in Ireland, Germany and Belgium”.
When announcing details of the search operation yesterday, a garda spokesman said: “The search was conducted as part of a larger investigation into incidents of fraud in jurisdictions including Norway, Germany, the USA, Hawaii and Ireland and the subsequent laundering of money through money mule accounts, businesses and trade-based money laundering operations.”
Police in Ireland are a major part of an international operation involving Europol and international law enforcement agencies targeting the Black Axe criminal organisation, which is run in from Nigeria but has tentacles all over the world.
The Nigerian Black Axe mafia syndicate first emerged in the 1970s when it was involved in ritual murders but has evolved into one of the biggest fraud gangs operating across the world, often recruiting intelligent gang members, such as computer specialists, in universities.
Last week gardaí announced that a cross-border investigation into the organisation resulted in 47 people being arrested in Ireland up until May for money laundering linked offences.
Over €400,000 stolen from Irish companies was also recovered.
The investigation, dubbed ‘Operation Jackal’, was led by law enforcement agencies across 21 countries on six continents.