Portuguese Police (Policia Judiciària or PJ) arrested a 69-year-old Portuguese man suspected of being part of an organized group that supplied uncertified rough diamonds from Angola to Belgium via Portugal, according to a report on The Portugal News Online.
The PJ said that the man was detained for smuggling uncertified diamonds, tax fraud and money laundering. The police operation was codenamed “Operation Kimberley Certified” and involved 55 PJ detectives, two public prosecutors and a judge.
Reports of the operation explained that rough diamonds would be smuggled into Portugal via Angola (a former Portuguese colony and one of the world’s largest diamond producers) by mules on commercial flights. Once they reached Portugal, the stones would be sent to Antwerp, Belgium, where they were cut and polished and put up for sale on the international market.
According to the rules stipulated in the Kimberley Process, all diamonds must be certified through its certification scheme, as a way to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond market. The Diàrio de Noticias (DN) newspaper claimed that the suspect had several Angolan suppliers, who would use third parties to send the gems to Portugal.
In total, police searched 13 houses, six non-domestic properties and two lawyers’ offices in the greater Lisbon area, as well as the Algarve and the Azores.