Two charged after Belfast raids on suspected 'money mules'
A man and woman have been charged with money laundering as part of a major police crackdown on "money mules" throughout Northern Ireland.
More than 100 officers took part in morning raids on a total of eight properties yesterday which resulted in the arrest of two men aged 31 and 24 and a 29-year-old woman.
The search operation was conducted by the PSNI's Economic Crime Unit and targeted properties in Craigavon and Belfast, although arrests were only made in the Shankill and Poleglass areas.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson said one of the suspects targeted in the operation has also been charged with a number of drug offences.
"A 24-year-old man has been charged with money laundering, possession of a class B drug, possession of a Class B drug with intent to supply, acquiring criminal property and converting criminal property.
"A 29-year-old woman has been charged with money laundering, acquiring criminal property and converting criminal property," he said.
They are due to appear in court on May 13.
The other suspect was released on bail pending further enquiries.
DCI Wilson warned that those who launder money through their personal bank accounts on behalf of criminals could be enabling human trafficking and prostitution.
"Typically, the money has been received as the result of a scam or fraud and the victim sends the cash to the money mule's account," he said. "It is then laundered by the mule who withdraws it, often changes it into a foreign currency and then passes it on to the criminal."
Police warned individuals who are being recruited through social media and by word of mouth to engage in illegal money transfers that it is not an easy way to make a living.
"Allowing your account details to be used for fraud could lead to you serving a custodial sentence," DCI Wilson said.
Police say they are investigating around 200 separate cases.