Principal of Colombia's DMG Group Arrested; Arrives in the Southern District of New York to Face Money-Laundering Charges
OCT 23 -- JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special Agent-In-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"), PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, 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 today the arrest of LUIS FERNANDO CEDIEL ROZO, a/k/a "Luis Fernando Sudiel Rosso," 34, on charges relating to his alleged role in a conspiracy to launder millions of dollars worth of narcotics proceeds through Colombian marketing giant D.M.G. Group("DMG") and a U.S. bank account.
DEA Special Agent in Charge JOHN P. GILBRIDE stated: "Throughout drug investigations law enforcement has identified the most strategically effective tactic -- take the money out of the drug traffickers' hands while taking the drugs off the streets. This investigation and this arrest exemplify international law enforcement cooperation and determination to make all of our communities drug free."
CEDIEL ROZO previously was arrested by Venezuelan authorities, and was transferred to the custody of United States yesterday. He is expected to make an initial appearance before a United States Magistrate Judge in Manhattan federal court later today.
According to the previously unsealed Superseding Indictment:
DAVID EDUARDO HELMUT MURCIA GUZMÁN created DMG (named after MURCIA GUZMÁN's initials) in 2003 as a vehicle for a multi-level marketing and Ponzi 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. If a customer signed up new customers, they could redeem points on the cards for cash. In exchange for its debit cards, DMG received large sums of cash in the form of Colombian pesos from its Latin American customers. By 2008, DMG had approximately 400,000 customers. By January 2009, DMG ceased operation.
MURCIA-GUZMAN and other DMG employees, including CEDIEL ROZO, 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. The defendants concealed narcotics proceeds by investing them in legitimate real estate and limited liability companies in the United States. The Indictment alleges that CEDIEL ROZO conspired with others to collect and launder millions of U.S. dollars in cash, which were the proceeds of narcotics trafficking, on the streets of Mexico City, Mexico. CEDIEL ROZO and his co-defendants -- MURCIA GUZMAN, PABON CASTRO, SUAREZ-SUAREZ, ANGEL RUEDA, BARANCHUK-RUEDA, and SERRANO-REYES -- all are 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 NYPD, and the NYSP -- DEA's Bogotá Country Office, DEA's Caracas Country Office, DEA's Caribbean Division, U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"), and ICE's Caracas Country Office. Mr. BHARARA also thanked the Venezuelan National Guard, La Oficina Nacional Anti-Droga of Venezuela, and the Servicio Administrativo de Identificación, Migración y Extranjería ("SAIME"), in addition to the Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs for their ongoing assistance in the investigation.
United States Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: "Criminals have an increasingly global reach. As these transnational targets develop more and more sophisticated methods of concealing their criminal proceeds, this Office will continue to track them around the world, working with all of our law enforcement partners to bring them to justice."
Police Commissioner RAYMOND W. KELLY stated: "No amount of laundering can wash away the blood that stains drug money, but it is nonetheless a great occasion when we can bring to justice anyone who profited from the misery and violence of narcotics trafficking and addiction. I want to commend the DEA agents, NYPD detectives, Federal prosecutors and our law enforcement partners in Venezuela and Colombia for their outstanding work in this important case."
The prosecution is being handled by the Office's International Narcotics Trafficking and Narcotics Units, with the assistance of the Asset Forfeiture Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys BENJAMIN A. NAFTALIS, TELEMACHUS P. KASULIS, and AMY LESTER are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges and allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.