Manhattan US Attorney Extradicts Leader of International Money Laundering Organization

LawFuel.com – American Attorney Newswire
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special
Agent-In-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug
Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), RAYMOND W. KELLY, the Police
Commissioner of the City of New York, and HARRY J. CORBITT, the
Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), announced
the extradition from Colombia of DAVID EDUARDO HELMUT MURCIA
GUZMÁN, 28, on charges relating to his role in a conspiracy to
launder millions of dollars worth of narcotics proceeds through
Colombian marketing giant D.M.G. Group (“DMG”). MURCIA GUZMÁN is
expected to arrive later today in Miami, Florida, where he will
be presented in United States District Court for the Southern
District of Florida. MURCIA GUZMÁN will be transferred to the
Southern District of New York for prosecution at a later date.
According to the Superseding Indictment previously
unsealed in Manhattan federal court:

The DMG Organization

DAVID EDUARDO HELMUT MURCIA GUZMÁN created DMG (named
after MURCIA GUZMÁN’s own initials) in 2003 as a vehicle for a
multi-level marketing scheme, through which customers could buy
pre-paid debit cards. DMG sold these pre-paid debit cards to
customers in Latin America, who could use them to purchase
electronics and other items at retail stores operated by DMG. By
2008, DMG’s customers numbered approximately 400,000. By January
2009, DMG ceased operation.

The Money Laundering Conspiracy

MURCIA GUZMÁN and six others are charged with
laundering narcotics proceeds through DMG and DMG’s affiliated
companies, using the Colombian Black Market Peso Exchange, an
informal value transfer system commonly used to launder
illicitly-obtained dollars in the United States, in exchange for
pesos taken in for “legitimate” purchases in Colombia. For
example, in the fall of 2007, MURCIA GUZMÁN and co-defendant
MARGARITA LEONOR PABON CASTRO, 35, approached another individual
in Colombia and said that they had cash — apparently in U.S.
dollars — that they could not deposit into the Colombian banking
system. MURCIA GUZMÁN and PABON CASTRO asked the individual to
set up an account in the United States where these funds could be
deposited. Thereafter, the individual opened an account at
Merrill Lynch in the United States, under the name “Blackstone
International Development” (the “Blackstone Account”). Neither
MURCIA GUZMÁN nor PABON CASTRO were listed as owners of the
Blackstone Account.

In March 2008, MURCIA GUZMÁN and PABON CASTRO told the
same individual that they had provided $2.2 million worth of
Colombian Pesos to GERMAN ENRIQUE SERRANO-REYES, 45, in Colombia,
and, in exchange, SERRANO-REYES had caused nearly $2.2 million to
be wired into the Blackstone Account through 18 separate wire
transfers. In May 2008, the United States Government seized
about $2.2 million from the Blackstone Account pursuant to a
court order. When MURCIA GUZMÁN was informed of the seizure of
the Blackstone Account, MURCIA GUZMÁN told the individual who set
up the account that he should not attempt to retrieve the
contents of the account, and should not under any circumstances
inform the authorities of MURCIA GUZMÁN’s or PABON CASTRO’s
interest in the Blackstone Account.
-3-
Co-defendant WILLIAM SUÁREZ-SUÁREZ, 41, headed DMG’s
Colombian operations, including the attempted bribery of
Colombian officials. In addition, SUÁREZ-SUÁREZ assisted MURCIA
GUZMÁN and others in establishing hundreds of subsidiary and
affiliated companies linked to DMG in countries including
Colombia, Panama, and the United States.
The Indictment also alleges that DMG-affiliated
defendants, including MURCIA GUZMÁN, SANTIAGO BARANCHUK-RUEDA,
34, DANIEL ANGEL RUEDA, 36, and LUIS FERNANDO CEDIEL ROZO, 34,
coordinated the pick-up and transportation of millions of dollars
in narcotics proceeds in Mexico. The defendants concealed
narcotics proceeds by investing them in legitimate real estate
and limited liability companies in the United States.
* * *
MURCIA GUZMÁN, SUÁREZ-SUÁREZ, PABON CASTRO, ANGEL
RUEDA, CEDIEL ROZO, BARANCHUK-RUEDA, and SERRANO-REYES are all
charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years
in prison. The case is assigned to United States District Judge
WILLIAM H. PAULEY III.

Mr. BHARARA praised the outstanding investigative work
of the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force — which is
comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City
Police Department, and the NYSP — DEA’s Bogota Country Office,
and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and
Customs Enforcement. Mr. BHARARA also thanked the Colombian
government and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of
International Affairs for its ongoing assistance.

United States Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “DAVID
MURCIA GUZMÁN is charged with using his namesake company as cover
for the laundering of illicit drug proceeds. MURCIA GUZMÁN
allegedly played a shell game with dirty money, masking millions
for narco-traffickers as legitimate transfers. This extradition
affirms that we will not tolerate the abuse of the U.S. banking
system to stimulate the black market economy. We will continue
to pursue international money launderers who provide a lifeline
for the global drug trade. We will work alongside our law
enforcement partners at the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task
Force and in Colombia, and Mexico in this vital work.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge JOHN P. GILBRIDE stated:
“Hiding behind a corporation name did not make this business
legitimate. In fact, it was facilitating millions of narco drug
dollars into pesos for drug traffickers worldwide. This
extradition highlights law enforcement’s international efforts to
identify and arrest those who profit from the sale of illegal
narcotics.”

New York City Police Commissioner RAYMOND W. KELLY
stated: “Extradition signals Colombia’s continuing commitment
with the U.S. in fighting drug dealers. It is also important in
attacking the money laundering that accompanies drug trafficking.
The black market peso exchange is just one of many schemes to
launder drug money and corrupt once legitimate business in the
process. Left to their own devices, narcotics traffickers would
undermine entire economies through drug trafficking, money
laundering, extortion and corruption. This was an auspicious
victory in a continuing fight.”
Assistant United States Attorneys BENJAMIN A. NAFTALIS,
TELEMACHUS P. KASULIS, and AMY LESTER are in charge of the
prosecution.

The charge and allegations contained in the Indictment
are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent
unless and until proven guilty.
10-002

Scroll to Top