Thirteen individuals charged by a federal grand jury with money laundering were arrested this morning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) working jointly with officers of the Puerto Rico Police Department.
According to the ICE the defendants allegedly attempted to launder approximately $8 million of which $4 million were seized. The investigation also revealed that the defendants utilized a money laundering scheme called the Black Market Peso Exchange to launder the illegal proceeds of drug trafficking organizations through electronic transfers to China, Hong Kong, Colombia, Sweden, Panama, Spain, United Arab Emirates and the United States. If convicted, the defendants face a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison.
“In recent years ICE has encountered an increasing number of major financial crimes, frequently resulting from the needs of drug trafficking organizations to launder large sums of criminal proceeds through legitimate financial institutions and investment vehicles,” said Roberto Escobar-Vargas, special agent in charge of ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations in San Juan. “We are committed to continue working with our law enforcement partners in our efforts to detect and close down weaknesses within our financial, trade and transportation sectors that can be exploited by criminal networks.”