Detectives investigating an international crime gang yesterday arrested two Midland men believed to have been laundering drug money through a Birmingham airline.
The suspects, plus seven Britons arrested in Spain, were detained following a nine-month joint investigation by Spanish and British police, together with Customs officials, looking at money crime and drug trafficking.
The network is thought to have used a Birminghambased airline business - which is now defunct - and a clothing manufacturer to conceal bulk movements of cash. The outfit is thought to have been processing more than £80 million a year through its businesses and is believed to have had global links to other money launderers.
The two Midland men, from Birmingham and Tamworth, Staffordshire, were resident in the UK and along with the other suspects shared a controlling interest in the airline.
The airline has not been named by police.
Detective Chief Inspector Tim Tyler, from the National Crime Squad, which was involved in the investigation, said he was delighted to have worked so successfully with the Spanish authorities.
"This operation represents a huge collaborative effort by all of our organisations, especially the Police Nacionale, who are attacking a criminal network which we believe is largely comprised of and controlled by British citizens in Spain," he said.
Seven Britons were arrested in Marbella and Madrid.
As well as the Midland arrests, another man was detained in Slough. A Spanish national was also arrested as part of the investigation.
An application is being made by the Crown Prosecution Service to have certain assets restrained in the UK following the arrests.