The European Police Service (Europol) announced on Friday that the police in Malta have arrested 15 people on suspicion of smuggling fuel across the Mediterranean and money laundering.
Europol stated that investigators also confiscated 35 cars, jewelry, luxury clothes, cell phones, and computers, and froze several million euros for the value of alleged money laundering.
Five of those are believed to have helped smuggle millions of euros worth of fuel from Libya to Europe, Maltese media reported, citing the authorities involved. The defendants deny the allegations.
Investigators took action against 15 companies suspected of being involved in the smuggling.
Reports say that two of the detainees were involved in a similar case 3 years ago when they were reportedly held temporarily on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
At that time, the allegations were that they belonged to a criminal network in Malta with ties to armed groups in Libya. The trial in this case is still ongoing.
For years, investigators and other government agencies have been taking action against the large-scale smuggling of petrol and diesel from Libya to Europe.