Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges 18 Defendants Based On Undercover Operation Targeting Colombian Black Market Peso Exchange
In Culmination of DEA Operation "Circling Vultures," Six Defendants Arrested in Colombia;
Six Defendants Extradited From Colombia and Panama
JUN 29 -- (Newark) JOHN G. McCABE, JR., the Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"), and PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced charges against 18 defendants, in seven separate cases, for their alleged participation in an international money laundering conspiracy.
Jader GOMEZ leader of Money Laundering Operation.
DEA New Jersey Division – Agents escorting defendants to the US to face federal charges.
The charges against these 18 defendants are the result of an extensive undercover DEA investigation into the Colombian Black Market Peso Exchange ("BMPE"), a means of laundering narcotics proceeds generated in the United States and ultimately returning them to Colombia.
In connection with the charges described in the thirteen charging instruments: one defendant was arrested yesterday; six defendants have been arrested in Colombia on June 24, and June 25, 2010; two defendants were extradited from Colombia on June 26, 2010; four defendants were previously extradited from Colombia and Panama; four defendants were previously arrested in New Jersey and Florida; and one defendant remains at large.
As alleged in the Indictments, Superseding Indictments, and criminal Complaints previously filed in connection with the investigation, and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court:
The BMPE is a means of laundering narcotics proceeds and transmitting the proceeds to the owners of the proceeds in countries of origin for narcotics such as Colombia. Through the BMPE, individuals serving in specialized roles, often called "peso brokers," "buy" the bulk U.S. dollar proceeds from the owners of the narcotics in Colombia. They then arrange to deliver the proceeds to co-conspirators in the United States, including corrupt businesses that send the proceeds to the peso brokers by engaging in apparently legitimate business banking transactions, by purchasing products that are then shipped to countries of origin for narcotics at the peso brokers' direction, or through other means. Once the currency or products arrive at their destination, they are sold to people who want to buy dollars or products for local currency (e.g., Colombian pesos) in unreported transactions at favorable exchange rates.
DEA undercover agents ("UCs") were introduced to numerous alleged peso brokers over the course of the investigation by a cooperating witness ("CW") who had laundered money through the BMPE. Over the next several months, UCs and others working in support of the operation engaged in multiple conversations, meetings, and monitored money laundering transactions in the United States, Panama, and Guatemala, among other locations, in which alleged narcotics proceeds were delivered or wire transferred to the UCs by targets of the investigation for laundering via the BMPE.
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