Peruvian Kingpin and His Wife Indicted
JUL 27 -- (Miami, FL)-R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Michael E. Yasofsky, Jr., Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, announced today the Indictment of Fernando Melciades Zevallos Gonzalez, who was previously designated a significant foreign narcotics trafficker under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (“the Kingpin Act”) by the President of the United States, and Sandra Elisa Sanchez, his wife. Both defendants were charged by a Miami grand jury with one count of conspiracy to violate Title 21, United States Code, Sections 1906(a), 1904(b) and (c)(1) (the “Kingpin Act”); eight counts of substantive violations of the Kingpin Act (Title 21, United States Code, Sections 1906(a)(1), and 1904(c)(1) and (b)(1)); one count of conspiracy to launder money; and six counts of substantive money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956(h) and (a), respectively.
This Indictment, which marks the first time that a violation of the Kingpin Act is charged, is the result of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force effort, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service. The Kingpin Act, which became effective on December 3, 1999, declares a national emergency with respect to the activities of international narcotics traffickers and their organizations that threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. In response to that emergency, Congress determined to apply economic and other financial sanctions to significant foreign narcotics traffickers and their organizations worldwide.
Defendant Fernando Zevallos, a notorious and violent drug trafficker operating out of Peru since the 1980s, is currently in prison in Peru following his conviction on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. Prior to his incarceration, Zevallos founded a Peruvian airline, called Aero Continente. On June 1, 2004, the President of the United States designated Zevallos as a “significant foreign narcotics trafficker” pursuant to the Kingpin Act. This designation, commonly referred to as an OFAC designation, effectively and automatically blocked all transactions in any property and any interest in property owned or controlled by Zevallos as of the date of designation. Therefore, any transactions within the United States regarding Zevallos’ property or any property in which he had an interest were prohibited and the airline was blocked under the authority of the Kingpin Act.
According to the Indictment, Zevallos used two shell companies, La Hacienda (USA), LLC and Running Brook, LLC, which he created using nominees, to conceal the illegal proceeds used to buy real estate in Coral Springs, Florida. After being designated under the Kingpin Act, Zevallos and his wife, defendant Sandra Sanchez, used the shell companies to sell approximately $1.7 million in real property, in violation of the Kingpin Act’s prohibition on the transfer of a designated trafficker’s property. In addition, after the sales of the blocked properties, the defendants used the shell companies to wire-transfer approximately $1.4 million from the proceeds of the sale of the Coral Springs properties to Peru, also in violation of the Kingpin Act.
United States Attorney Acosta stated, “International drug traffickers will not be allowed to profit from the misery and despair in which they peddle. The Kingpin Act attacks drug dealers where they care + in their pocketbooks.”
“International drug kingpins are no longer safe from the long arm of the DEA, and the law,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark Trouville. “The DEA will continue to follow the money and aggressively pursue all members of these drug trafficking and money laundering organizations, both domestically and internationally.”
Michael Yasofsky, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Miami Office, stated, “IRS-Criminal Investigation and the federal law enforcement community are united in our efforts to halt the destruction, both financial and social, that criminal organizations bring to our community, our society, and our world neighbors.”
United States Attorney Acosta commended the investigative work which the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service have done in this case, culminating in the Indictment of the defendants. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ricardo del Toro.