The Head of Specialist Crime at Scotland Yard DCS Michael Gallagher claims that drug gangs are moving away from laundering cash through banks to instead using smaller money service businesses.
In comments made to The Guardian Newspaper, DCS Gallagher claimed that network of 34,000 money service businesses (MSBs) was suspected of being the main way for those involved in serious and organised crime to move money around.
These MSBs which include businesses including bureaux de change, money transfer brokers and payday-loan services are believed to have become the method of choice for drugs networks to get cash made from selling on Britain’s streets out of the country and back to those in the supply chain.
The Police Chief has warned that British law enforcement is planning fresh crackdowns this year and hope that by cutting off the cash profits from the drugs trade they could help reduce the violence on the streets that went with it.
DCS Michael Gallagher said: “I’m convinced there is a link between money, drugs and violence. And my command’s response in the criminal finance area is to help address street violence, through disrupting that business model.
“If you can disrupt the financial element of it, you may well disrupt the violence. Cash is still king. There are still large amounts of cash going through MSBs from criminal enterprises.
“Banks have been subjected to tougher and tougher regulations to stop major criminals from using them. So serious and organised criminals have transformed their business methods to beat the clampdown and now at least hundreds of millions of pounds is flowing through MSBs, which are less strictly regulated than banks.”
Criminals are turning to these MSBs as they are lightly regulated and their existence, in theory, is to help people working in the UK send money to families overseas.
DS Gallagher added: “Cocaine is not produced in London. Cocaine is produced in Colombia. Young men, selling rocks of crack cocaine on street corners in our inner cities. So how do I get that money back to you in Colombia? An MSB is a way to facilitate that.”
The Police now hope a sustained crackdown on MSBs will be another pressure point on the dynamics driving violence and knife crime in the country.