February 09, 2018
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-2906
Montreal-based Drug Trafficking Ring Operating Throughout The United States, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia And Peru Dismantled
ALBANY, N.Y. - Five men have pleaded guilty to their involvement in a transnational drug trafficking and money laundering ring that moved substantial quantities of drugs and money through Upstate New York and Canada.
The announcement was made by James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement (DEA); United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith; James D. Robnett, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of IRS-Criminal Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly of Homeland Security (HSI), Buffalo Field Office.
In connection with their guilty pleas, the defendants admitted that:
Between August 2014 and March 30, 2016, Iraklis Haviaropoulos led a money laundering and drug trafficking organization based in Montreal, Canada, which purchased and distributed more than 300 kilograms of cocaine and laundered more than $1 million.
In connection with the cocaine conspiracy, Haviaropoulos purchased cocaine from, among other sources, Carlos Alberto Ocampo Garcia in Piura, Peru, on the northern coast of Peru. Pilots working for Haviaropoulos picked up the cocaine at a clandestine airstrip outside of Piura, flew it to Guatemala, and then on to Mexico. In Mexico, truck drivers picked up the cocaine, smuggled it into the United States by crossing the Mexican border, and then smuggled it into Quebec, Canada. Some of the cocaine crossed through the Northern District of New York. During the investigation more than 337 kilograms of cocaine were seized, as well as fentanyl and marijuana.
The organization collected cash from selling marijuana in the United States and cocaine in Canada. The cash was delivered to couriers in, among other places, Albany County, Ulster County, and Montreal so that the cash could be delivered, either by a courier or by wire, to the cocaine suppliers, to pay for more cocaine. At least $1 million was sent to Chicago, Los Angeles, Peru, and Colombia; money was also wired to China. During the investigation, more than $1 million was seized.
DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said: “This significant trafficking organization established itself in strategic positions around the globe to profit off the sale of cocaine, marijuana and fentanyl. Law enforcement’s investigation identified the organization’s circuitous route sending money from Quebec to South America Countries and China; and in return, sending drugs back to major cities in North America like Los Angeles, Chicago and Montreal. Law enforcement is committed to identifying, arresting and prosecuting those whose criminal actions enable drug addiction and inevitable drug overdoses.”
“This sophisticated organization, which used transnational networks to move huge amounts of cocaine and illegal money through our communities, has now been dismantled thanks to the cutting-edge work of federal agents and their effective collaboration with our law enforcement partners in other states and countries, particularly our Canadian counterparts,” said United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith. “As this case demonstrates, we will use all of our resources to pursue foreign-based drug traffickers and bring them to justice.”
IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James D. Robnett said: “IRS-CI is united with the rest of the law enforcement community in our resolve to financially dismantle organizations that commit crimes against our society. We will target the profits of international narcotics traffickers and secure evidence that exposes their criminal activities.”
HSI Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly said: “This case is an effective demonstration of the combined power that federal, state, and foreign law enforcement agencies possess when working together as one. No matter how sophisticated or how large, working collectively, we possess the resources and the will to ensure that operations such as these get taken down as fast as they emerge.”
All of the following people have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit international or promotional money laundering, and Haviaropoulos, Garcia, and Ortiz Bolanos have also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, before United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino:
This case is the result of the close, cooperative efforts of the DEA, led by the Albany District Office and including DEA offices in Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Worcester, Massachusetts; IRS-Criminal Investigation, and HSI. These federal agencies worked closely with the Sûreté du Québec, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Peruvian National Police, and the Colombian National Police. U.S. Border Patrol, the Malone Police Department, the New York State Police, the Chicago Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Watervliet Police Department also provided assistance.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth R. Rabe. Three of the five defendants were extradited to face charges in the Northern District of New York with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.