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News Release
September 27, 2004

Multi Agency Investigation In The District Of Puerto Rico Crackdown International Money Laundering And Narcotics Organization

SEP 27--SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico— H.S.Garcia, United States Attorney, District of Puerto Rico, Roberto G. Medina, Special Agent in Charge, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US ICE), Brian J. Wimpling, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigations Division, Jerome Harris, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); James F. Sloan, Director, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN); and Agustin Cartagena Diaz, Superintendent, Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), Colonel Adalberto Mercado, Director San Juan Municipal Police; Lcdo. Nelson Espinel, Director Puerto Rico Bureau of Special Investigations, announced today that on September 27, 2004, a Federal Grand Jury indicted twenty four (24) persons involved in a conspiracy to commit money laundering and a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute narcotics. The Grand jury also charged money laundering and drug forfeiture allegations. Suspects have been charged with violations of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956(h) and 982; and Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846, 853 and 881.

Law enforcement agencies led by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in San Juan conducted a long term investigation of the Juan Isidro Toloza-Peña/Juan Andres Toloza-Peña narcotics and money laundering organization operating in Colombia, Puerto Rico, Florida, Venezuela and St. Maarten, N.A.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Harris stated: "This again demostrates the superior cooperation of the Korps Politie St Maarten, the Recherche Samenwerkings Team, and the Coast Guard of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba with U.S. authorities. Their combined and seamless effort clearly demonstrates their understanding of transnational crimes and the need for regional partnerships in the Caribbean to combat the highest echelons of drug and money laundering organizations that operate in the region. They should be commended for their tireless efforts and quick response to requests from abroad."

The objective of this criminal organization was to generate money through the illegal sale and distribution of narcotics, such as cocaine and heroin. Members of this organization also represented various Colombian-based owners of United States currency, the proceeds of illegal drug trafficking activities. As part of the conspiracy, the defendants would coordinate and deliver large sums of United States currency, which constituted proceeds from illegal sale of narcotics in Puerto Rico and Miami, Florida so that they could later be transferred from Puerto Rico and Miami Florida to the Colombian owners. The defendants provided multiple bank accounts throughout the United States, Colombia, Costa Rica and China and instructions for the electronic transfer of the money to the Colombian owners. This organization also invested in allegedly legitimate business to conceal the a fact that cash proceeds came from the illegal sale and distribution of narcotics.

The indictment charges money laundering forfeiture allegations in the amount of four million, fifty-seven thousand, seven-hundred and fifty-one dollars ($4,057,751.00), and includes fourteen (14) properties located in Colombia and sixteen (16) international and domestic bank accounts. Drug forfeiture allegations were also charged by the Grand Jury in the amount of five hundred and forty-nine thousand, seventy-five dollars ($549,075.00) against any property derived from the proceeds of this illegal activity.

Penalties for the narcotics offense alleged in the indictment range from ten (10) years to life imprisonment and fines up to four million dollars ($4,000,000.00). Penalties for the money launderinig offense alleged in the indictment range from a fine of not more than five-hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.00), or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty (20) years, or both.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial and the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Desiree Laborde-Sanfiorenzo, Deputy Chief, Narcotics Section, and Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Henwood.


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