August 14, 2006

Colombians face US prison in drug-money laundering

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two Colombian brothers have been
sentenced to more than eight years in U.S. prison for their
part in a multimillion-dollar international drug-money
laundering ring, federal prosecutors said on Monday.

Nicolas Otalvaro-Ortiz and his brother Gabriel were
extradited from Colombia last year after a joint operation by
authorities in the United States, Canada, Colombia and Britain
dismantled a ring that laundered millions of dollars of drug

"Operation White Dollar led to the indictment of 34
defendants in the United States, Canada and Colombia on
money-laundering charges and the forfeiture of more than $20
million in Colombian drug proceeds," U.S. Attorney Michael
Garcia said in a statement.

The Otalvaro-Ortiz brothers pleaded guilty and were
sentenced to 98 months in prison by Judge Harold Baer Jr, who
found that the brothers had laundered up to $1 million in
Colombian drug money, Garcia said.

He said the laundering involved "peso brokers" who acted as
middle men between narcotics traffickers, who control drug
money in the United States, and companies and individuals in
Colombia who want to buy U.S. dollars but avoid paying
Colombian taxes, import duties and transaction fees.