UIF blocks accounts of Romanian criminal gang operating in the Riviera Maya

In a joint investigation with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), called Operation Caribe, the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) of Mexico blocked the accounts of dozens of people and companies belonging to a gang originating in Romania involved with the looting of ATMs in Cancún and in other tourist destinations within the country.

A source from the FIU confirmed that the gang is headed by the Romanian citizen Florian Tudor.

“By agreement of the national security cabinet of the Government of the President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, we blocked 79 individuals and legal entities of a criminal group with people of Romanian and Mexican nationality, who were engaged in cloning credit and debit cards in tourist destinations “, confirmed the head of the UIF, Santiago Nieto, through his twitter account.

In a statement, the UIF indicated that it detected operations between members of the band for 462.5 million pesos; international transfers for more than 483 million pesos, as well as the issuance of checks and thousands of interbank transfers for 4.642 million pesos.

Also read: Crossing the Rio Grande: How Romanians illegally entered the United States to rob ATMs

Since February 2020, the FBI has requested the FIU to collaborate in tracking the properties and transactions carried out by Florian Tudor, the alleged leader of the gang, and his partners Adrian Constantin Tiugan and Adrián Ninel Enachescu.

The account lockdown occurred eight months after OCCRP (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project), Fifth Element Lab, Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity and Rise Project published an investigation that revealed the operations of the Romanian criminal group.

The UIF source estimated that the gang is involved in illicit operations for 240 million dollars a year globally, a figure similar to that revealed by the journalistic investigation.

At the center of this investigation is the company Top Life Servicios SA de CV, created in December 2013 by Adrian Constantin Tiugan, a Romanian criminal who had international arrest warrants for having participated in an ATM looting scheme in Italy and The Vatican.

Also read: Héctor De Mauleón – The Mafia Found Paradise

Tiugan created Top Life in Quintana Roo with an immigration permit issued in the name of Paul Daniel Ionete, a low-profile Romanian criminal dedicated to drug trafficking whose identity was usurped. On March 1, 2014, that company signed a contract with Banco Multiva to place ATMs in the Yucatan Peninsula and the Mexican Pacific.

The criminal organization, with ramifications on three continents, looted between 2014 and 2019 about 1.2 billion dollars of ATMs altered that he placed in different cities of Mexico, according to documents that are part of the journalistic investigation and interviews with dozens of sources.

The FIU confirmed that the exchange of information between Mexican agencies and the FBI allowed the identification of the organization made up of Romanians and Mexicans that established its operations center in Cancun, Quintana Roo, and in other areas such as the Riviera Nayarit, Los Cabos, Baja California South, and Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.

Also read: From Cashier to Brick: Laundering Dirty Money

The Attorney General’s Office also began an investigation into the organization led by Florian Tudor since 2019, but sources consulted did not respond if there are already arrest warrants against the members of the band.

Mexican police have not yet made public why Tudor and its partners are being investigated.

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