“The mission in these times is to have an open mind to be able to find all the resources that criminals use to use the funds they obtain from the crimes they commit,” said prosecutor Diego López Ávila. He was in charge of the investigation that dismantled the well-known "Cryptocurrency gang", a group that bought bitcoins with the money from the loot. This is the dark side of the well-known virtual currencies. This would be the first time that ordinary justice has encountered this novelty. At the national level there is not much precedent either.
On December 24, 2020, at least seven heavily armed criminals entered a building on Calle Monteagudo at 700 of this capital, violently reducing the security employee and threatening him with firearms. Then they went to an apartment that was without residents and from there they stole a sum of money in dollars, euros, jewelry and gold medals. The case was investigated by the Robos y Hurtos men, under the command of commissioners Miguel Carabajal, René Soria and Jorge Dib. After obtaining some information, they went to López Ávila, told him the news and decided to deepen the investigation because they suspected that the group would have been involved in other similar events.
After 11 months of investigation, on November 26, after carrying out several simultaneous raids, three suspected members of the group were arrested. During the hearing held against those accused of aggravated robbery, López Ávila reported that the gang had well-oiled logistics to commit these assaults. “The gang was made up of several people, of whom there are already another three detainees for another reason, and could even be linked to a robbery in which Miguel ‘La Gata’ Lizárraga is being investigated. They were violent and had the resources to get rid of the loot quickly," he explained.
The head of the Robbery and Theft Fiscal Unit I explained that the gang had the services of a “jeweler” who was in charge of melting down the gold and silver jewelry they stole, to avoid being discovered.
“But in the middle of the investigation another piece of information emerged: they had a financier who advised them on the purchase of cryptocurrencies to invest the spurious money,” he added. The intervening judge ordered preventive detention for four months for "Bidón", "Mubi" and "Mudo". Other alleged members of this group are behind bars for the robbery of a pharmacy.
López Ávila highlighted the work carried out by the Robbery and Theft investigators and the Criminal Analysis Directorate of the Tax Investigation Scientific Team. “They also had to deal with something that is totally new and hard to find. Imagine one thing: if it is difficult to keep track of traditional financial movements, what is left to analyze the virtual economic circuit, which is infinite and in which there is practically no regulation in this and other countries”, he commented.
“In this investigation we accomplished something that, at least in our prosecution, had never been done before. We requested a virtual search to analyze all the information that one of the suspects stored on his computer and the movements and activities that he carried out on some sites and on social networks. Judge Isolina Apas Pérez de Nucci understood the situation and accepted that the measures be carried out. The information is currently being analyzed by the experts," added the prosecutor.
In the province and at the national level, justice had intervened in several cases of scams carried out with cryptocurrencies. Only on September 21 was there a ruling against a person who laundered assets by acquiring crypto assets.
This is the Buenos Aires investor Emmanuel García, who was sentenced to five years in prison and to pay a fine of more than US$ 3 million for having made investments with the money given to him by the defendants in the case known as "White coils". It was a gang made up of Mexicans and Argentines who stored drugs in Mendoza, moved them to the port of Bahía Blanca and transported them, inside the coils, to Europe. When they were arrested, the security forces seized more than 1,800 kilos of that drug.
Lawyers acknowledge that criminals have changed the way they “work” to avoid discovery. “They are constantly changing. Either they change their line of business or they look for alternatives to get rid of the loot they get”, explained a professional.
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