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France busts international cannabis money-laundering network
French police have busted one of the biggest cannabis money-laundering networks ever discovered in the country. Companies in France, Belgium, Dubai, Hong Kong, India and Morocco were part of a criminal network that turned drug money into gold jewellery to be sold in India.
Ten people were arrested on Monday in Paris and three others in Belgium, prosecutor François Mollins announced on Thursday, describing the network as one of the biggest ever cracked in France.
The cannabis money was collected in France but its laundering was orchestrated by a "banker" from Morocco.
The organisation was led in Paris by a 32 year-old Indian man, who admitted laundering 36 million euros since 2010 and sending 200 kg of gold from Belgium to India.
The money from illicit drug sales in France was sent to Belgium to buy gold.
From Belgium students acting as mules carried the gold, transformed into a fine powder mixed into ground coffee, to Dubai during weekends before returning to university on Mondays.
In Dubai the gold was then made into jewellery and sent to India to be sold on the gold market.
The profits were finally shared between the French and Indian launderers and the Moroccan "banker".
The network collected about 170 million euros per year.
In France drug trafficking is estimated to be worth three billion euros.