Cali Cartel Front Man Pleads Guilty and is Sentenced on Money Laundering Charges
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2007-05-12 01:05:31 -
NEW YORK, May 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fernando Gutierrez-Cancino, a key participant in the Cali Cartel's efforts to launder its vast cocaine proceeds, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 months in prison on money laundering charges, U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia for the Southern District of New York; Special Agent-in-Charge John P. Gilbride of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division; and Director Adam J. Szubin of the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced today.
Gutierrez-Cancino was extradited from Spain to the Southern District of
New York in March 2005. According to the indictment, filed in Manhattan federal court, other court documents, and Gutierrez-Cancino's guilty plea and sentencing proceedings:
Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela and Miguel Angel Rodriguez-Orejuela, co- defendants of Gutierrez-Cancino, once controlled a powerful Colombian narcotics-trafficking organization based in Cali, Colombia (Cali Cartel). The Cali Cartel was involved in all aspects of the cocaine trade, including production, transportation, wholesale distribution, and money laundering. Between in or about 1982 and 1995, the Cali Cartel transported and sold tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and ultimately amassed an illicit fortune worth in excess of $1 billion.
In order to hide the Cali Cartel fortune from law enforcement detection and seizure, Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela, Miguel Angel Rodriguez-Orejuela and Gutierrez-Cancino invested the illicit fortune of the Cali Cartel in ostensibly legitimate companies, including companies involved in the production and sale of pharmaceutical drugs. Although the Rodriguez-Orejuelas and Gutierrez-Cancino were initially identified in Colombian public documents as partners in several of the companies, they attempted to conceal their continuing ownership and control of these companies from law enforcement authorities. As part of these efforts, the Rodriguez-Orejuelas and Gutierrez- Cancino arranged for their companies to be held under the names of family members or trusted associates.
On October 21, 1995, President William Jefferson Clinton-pursuant to the authority granted by, among other things, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (Sections 1701 to 1706 of Title 50 of the United States Code, signed Executive Order 12978, entitled "Blocking Assets and Prohibiting Transactions with Significant Narcotics Traffickers"-declared a national emergency based on the threat posed to the United States by significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia and applied economic sanctions against, among others, Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela, and delegated the enforcement and the regulation of the economic sanctions to the OFAC. On that same date, OFAC applied economic sanctions against Gutierrez-Cancino.
Between October 21, 1995, and the date of the indictment, in an attempt to protect their assets and to evade OFAC sanctions, the Rodriguez-Orejuelas and Gutierrez-Cancino removed their names from companies that had been sanctioned by OFAC. In addition, after the companies were sanctioned by OFAC, the Rodriguez-Orejuelas and Gutierrez-Cancino established new or re-organized companies from the previously-sanctioned companies, which companies simply assumed the assets and continued to perform the services of previously- sanctioned companies and often maintained the same management and physical business locations. After the new or re-organized companies were formed, the Rodriguez-Orejuelas and Gutierrez-Cancino then named additional family members and trusted associates, who had not been sanctioned by OFAC, to manage the companies.
Gutierrez-Cancino pleaded guilty yesterday before the Honorable Alvin K. Hellerstein to money-laundering conspiracy as charged in count one of the indictment. He was sentenced this morning principally to 40 months in prison. In addition, under the terms of a plea agreement, Gutierrez-Cancino also agreed to forfeit his interest in more than $100 million worth of assets in Colombia derived from and traceable to the charged money-laundering crimes. Gutierrez-Cancino's co-defendants, Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela, both pleaded guilty to the same money laundering charges in November 2006, and were sentenced principally to 87 months in prison
"It is clear that large international drug trafficking organizations are as sophisticated as any business on earth, with complex systems not only to manufacture, transport and distribute their product, but also diversified methods to move and conceal their illicit profits," U.S. Attorney Garcia said. "Narcotics laws, anti-money laundering statutes, and the controls on our banking system are all powerful law-enforcement tools we use to attack these cartels at every point in their business, and to deny traffickers access to the legitimate economy to launder their drug profits."
"The once-powerful financial empire of the Cali Cartel is crumbling," Director Szubin said. "Today's plea agreement by Fernando Gutierrez-Cancino, a key financial associate of Cali Cartel leaders Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela, builds on significant forfeitures and guilty pleas over the past year to deliver yet another heavy blow. It is also a vivid demonstration of the power of coordinated efforts by the Department of Justice, our law enforcement colleagues, and OFAC."
"The Cali Cartel has been hit hard once again by law enforcement," Special Agent-in-Charge Gilbride said. "Today's plea agreement proves that DEA and our law enforcement partners have successfully weeded out the one person who fueled their profit, the money man. For decades, Fernando Gutierrez-Cancino laundered and managed the profit the Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers made from drug trafficking. Today, he faced the consequences of his actions."
The charges in the indictment were the result of a joint Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation entitled "Operation Dynasty," which involved the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, the DEA, OFAC, the Colombian National Police (CNP), and the Colombian Fiscalia Money Laundering Section (CFMLS). The New York investigation was conducted as part of the New York OCDETF, comprised of law enforcement agencies including the DEA, New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Bureau of Investigations and the New York State Police.
U.S. Attorney Garcia praised the investigative efforts of the DEA, OFAC, the CNP, the CFMLS, and the law enforcement agencies comprising the New York OCDETF.
Operation Dynasty is being prosecuted by the Office's International Narcotics Trafficking Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Boyd M. Johnson III, Glen G. McGorty, and Kevin R. Puvalowski are in charge of the prosecution.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice
Anybody who hasn't read 'DRUG LORDS: The Rise and Fall of the Cali Cartel' needs to.. It's a good book with a great insight on how the Cartel came to be..
|Drug Lords charts the spectacular rise and fall of the Cali cartel, the richest drug trafficking gang the world has ever seen. Based in the Colombian city of Cali, it flooded the United States and Europe with cocaine, made tens of billions in illicit profits, and waged a bloody war with Pablo Escobar's Medellin cartel, leaving hundreds dead or maimed.|
Led by four men - brilliant strategist Gilberto Rodriguez, his hands-on brother Miguel, the tough and vicious Jose Santacruz and the cool, dapper Pacho Herrera - the cartel seized control of the coke trade in New York in the late 1970s and used it to springboard to near-global domination. Operating like a multinational corporation, it brought a unique degree of organization to the drugs trade, and remained virtually untouchable for twenty years.
In a tale more shocking than any thriller, author Ron Chepesiuk reveals how the gang built an army of dealers, smugglers, money launderers, lawyers and assassins, and how it corrupted politicians, cops and judges. Eventually, however, its godfathers became the prime target for the U.S.-led War on Drugs, and were cut down or captured one by one. Today the cartel lies shattered, and the full account of 'the biggest single dealer of drugs in the world' can be told.
Colombian Drug Kingpin Convicted In NYC
Updated: 7:10 p.m. ET June 15, 2007
A Colombian drug kingpin was convicted in a Manhattan Federal Court on Friday on drug smuggling and money-laundering charges. Manuel Felipe Salazar-Espinosa was considered one of the world's biggest drug dealers by the U.S. Justice Department. Salazar-Espinosa was extradited from Colombia to New York for trial in August 2006. Investigators said he was caught trying to ship more than a ton of cocaine that was concealed in a crane that was bound for the United States from Panama. Drug Enforcement Administration agents said they tracked more than $12 million in drug sales through his organization. "With today's conviction ... Hoover Salazar-Espinosa's 20-year-long career of narcotics trafficking and money laundering has come to an end," U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said. Salazar-Espinosa was convicted on all three counts and faces a sentence that could range from 10 years to life in prison. Officials said he conspired with Mexican drug cartel leaders as part of his international drug-smuggling operation.
Druglord guilty in huge coke scheme
Saturday, June 16th 2007, 4:00 AM
Manuel Felipe Espinosa-Salazar
An alleged Colombian drug kingpin was convicted in Manhattan Federal Court yesterday of smuggling a ton of cocaine a week through Mexico to New York.
Manuel Felipe Espinosa-Salazar, also known as Hoover, was extradited from Colombia last year after the Justice Department named him one of the world's most significant druglords. Salazar also was found guilty of laundering between $12 million and $14 million in drug cash per week between 2002 and 2005.
The feds seized a 1.3-ton shipment of cocaine belonging to Espinosa-Salazar's cartel bound for the U.S. and hidden in the arm of a crane in Panama in July 2005.
Mayor: Car bomb kills 4 in Cali
Associated Press - September 1, 2008 5:13 AM ET
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - The mayor of Cali says a car bomb has exploded in front of the palace of justice, killing at least four people and injuring 20 others.
Jorge Ivan Ospina said the car exploded after it was left outside the palace, which was damaged.
Victims were pedestrians in the center of the city about 186 miles southwest Bogota.
"It has been an attack, a terrorist attack because civilians have died," the mayor told radio station Caracol.
Authorities are investigating the attack and weighing a possible reward for information leading to the attackers.
Diana Salamanca, Cali's interior secretary, told Caracol there was a police officer among the people injured.
US court upholds conviction of drug kingpin
7/7/2009, 6:35 p.m. EDT
The Associated Press
(AP) — ATLANTA - A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction and 40-year prison sentence of a Colombian drug kingpin.
Authorities said Joaquin Mario Valencia-Trujillo headed the Cali cartel, responsible for an operation known as the "Panama Express," which smuggled more than 600 tons of cocaine worth $8 billion over seven years.
Valencia-Trujillo was arrested in Colombia in 2003 and extradited to the United States. After his October 2006 conviction in Tampa, Florida, he was also ordered to forfeit $110 million.
His lawyers contended he was a legitimate businessman convicted on the word of drug traffickers. Among other things, they claimed on appeal that he was prosecuted for crimes beyond those Colombia authorized in his extradition.
An 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld the conviction Tuesday.
There's no doubt that the large-scale operations against organizations like the Cali cartel brought down huge groups. But then the Colombians have learned from their mistakes. They now have literally hundreds of "mini-Cartels", all just families or villages or ethnic groups involved. Because of this fragmentation, which is deliberate, it's just so hard to pin down who a Kingpin might be. So the extraditions seem to be slowing from Colombia while rising from Mexico. I predict that the Mexican Giant-Cartels will suffer the same fate as their Colombian forebears.