Huge amount of cash seized in money laundering probe

POSTED: 08/8/12 12:05 PM

Stash found in washing machine; two men arrested

St. Maarten – Officers of the detective collaboration team RST and the police force seized almost $700,000 during house searches in Pelican and Cupecoy last week, Chief Prosecutor mr. Hans Mos confirmed in a press release issued yesterday. The search is part of a money laundering investigation.

In an apartment on Rhine Road officers seized a pistol and an amount of around $13,500. A search at a house on Amber Road yielded $673,500. Part of the money was hidden in a washing machine. Officers also seized a rifle at this address, where a 44-year- old man from Venezuela, identified as F.J.M.M. was arrested.

After his interrogation during the weekend, 46-year-old F.H. from St. Maarten was arrested on suspicion of gun possession. The Venezuelan claimed that the rifle found at his address did not belong to him but to the owner of the house.

Yesterday F.H. was at the Judge of Instruction where the prosecution asked for his pre-trial detention. The press release states that the request was granted. “But the judge immediately suspended his detention based on personal grounds.”

Local law enforcement acted on information provided by a foreign law enforcement agency and on information gathered by local police officers. The press release did not give details about the country where this agency’s is established.

The Judge of Instruction prolonged the detention of the Venezuelan suspect by 8 days. The prosecutor’s office will ask for his pre-trial detention later this week.

The investigation is far from complete because officers not only seized weapons and cash, they also took a lot of paperwork and files from the searched homes.

Chief Prosecutor Mos stated in the press release that it is the intention of his office and of the police to step up actions against international and national money laundering.  “This investigation is the result of that intention and was based on intensified international cooperation between foreign and national law enforcement agencies.”

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