More than 250 police officers took part in the operation in 13 locations across Spain [File: EPA]

Spanish police have arrested 41 people suspected of financing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebel group with laundered money allegedly from drug trafficking operations.

More than 250 officers took part in the operation on Friday, in which police searched 27 homes and money transfer offices in 13 cities and towns across the country, including Madrid, Barcelona and Alicante, a police statement said.

Spanish police opened their investigation in August 2008 after noticing a "very significant rise" in the amount of money being transferred from Spain to Colombia and Ecuador.

"During the investigation it transpired that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or some of its members may have been the recipients of part of the funds," the police statement said.

They estimate that since they opened their investigation the group under investigation sent more than $270m raised from the sale of narcotics across Europe to Colombia and Ecuador.

'Farc links'

Colombian police identified one of the recipients of the money in Colombia as being linked to Farc rebels. He was also wanted for murder and terrorism. Another 12 recipients of the money had ties to this man.

The Spanish high court which ordered the arrests on Friday also sent out detention orders to Colombia and Ecuador, judicial sources said.

Spanish public radio reported that the latest arrests were linked to the July 2008 detention of a woman suspected of being a representative of Farc.

Spain's interior ministry said at the time that Maria Remedios Garcia Albert was discovered in possession of a significant amount of money which she was preparing to send to representatives of Farc in Europe.

In March, a Spanish judge charged seven suspected Farc members and six members of the armed Basque separatist group Eta with plotting to assassinate Alvaro Uribe, the former president of Colombia, and other Colombian officials while in Spain.

Farc has been trying to topple Colombia's government for 40 years.

Source: Agencies