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Final Defendant Sentenced in International Money Laundering Investigation

NOV 12 (ATLANTA) - Heriberto Almonte-Reyes, the last of nineteen defendants in a large-scale money laundering organization, has been sentenced for his part in a conspiracy that laundered drug proceeds from Mexico, Australia, England, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Guatemala, Miami, New York, and Puerto Rico.

“International drug trafficking is a sophisticated business, and money launderers provide the financial lifeline for the cartels,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.  “These defendants, most of whom were extradited from Columbia, were responsible for laundering tens of millions of dollars of drug money.”

John S. Comer, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented, “Drug traffickers utilize a multitude of sophisticated methods in which to hide their assets, but one of DEA’s highest priorities is to relentlessly pursue and destroy these drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. This global money laundering investigation was a success because of the local, regional, national, and foreign law enforcement partnerships and our commitment to bring this organization to justice in the United States.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court:  In 2005, the DEA infiltrated an international money laundering organization through the use of a confidential informant. Targets of the investigation asked the informant to assist them in laundering drug proceeds across the globe.  Undercover DEA agents and local agents picked up the drug money in Mexico, Australia, England, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Guatemala, as well as Miami, Fla., New York and Puerto Rico. The drug money, totaling over $11 million was then deposited into undercover bank accounts in the Atlanta, Ga., area.

The investigation resulted in the seizure of over $15 million and resulted in the prosecution of high-level targets such as Severo Escobar Garzon, IV, who is reported to be the nephew of Pablo Escobar. Most of the defendants were extradited from Colombia to face federal charges, and two were extradited from the Dominican Republic and England.  All of the defendants pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder drug proceeds.  All of the defendants are expected to be deported to their country of origin after the completion of their sentences. 

The defendants and their sentences are as follows:

  • Victor Andres Murcia-Reyes, 40, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to ten years in prison, on September 5, 2014.
  • Luis Carlos Rodriguez-Vaca, 50, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to nine years in prison, on December 16, 2010.
  • Dario Vicente Caballero-Caballero, 51, of Barranquilla, Colombia, was sentenced to eight years, four months in prison, on April 16, 2014.
  • Carlos Mario Becerra-Restrepo, 52, of Medellin, Colombia, was sentenced to eight years, four months in prison, on March 6, 2014.
  • Alfredo Betancourt-Munoz, 66, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to eight years in prison, on October 27, 2011.
  • Heriberto Almonte-Reyes, 41, of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, was sentenced to seven years, three months in prison, on October 17, 2014.
  • Severo Escobar Garzon, IV, 55, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to six years, five months in prison, on January 12, 2012.
  • Fernando Martinez-Borreaz, 49, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to six years, four months in prison, on April 26, 2013.
  • Juan Cenen Avila-Pena, 51, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to six years in prison, on April 23, 2010.
  • Carlos Mario Torres, 47, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to four years, ten months in prison, on December 1, 2011.
  • Oscar Eduardo Galvis-Pena, 41, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to four years, five months in prison, on December 12, 2013.
  • Hernando Valencia Munoz, 61, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to four years, four months in prison, on January 13, 2012.
  • Fabio Bravo-Russy, 59, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to four years, four months in prison, on June 1, 2011. 
  • Ampara Balaquera-Zarta, 53, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to four years in prison, on November 29, 2011.
  • Alexander Salazar-Duarte, 43, of London, England, was sentenced to three years, four months in prison, on December 1, 2011. 
  • Jaime Moreno-Bravo, 70, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to three years in prison, on July 22, 2011.
  • Jersson Ramirez-Huertas, 38, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to two years, six months in prison, on May 26, 2011.
  • Martha Camacho-Roa, 48, of Bogota, Colombia, was sentenced to one year, eleven months in prison, on January 6, 2011.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Valuable assistance was provided by the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Postal Service, United States Customs and Border Patrol, international law enforcement partners, and the Doraville, Ga., Duluth, Ga., and Lawrenceville, Ga., Police Departments.

Assistant United States Attorneys Sandra Strippoli, Scott Ferber, and Jeffrey Viscomi prosecuted the case.

The DEA encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.


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