The Money Laundering Activities of Harold Mauricio Poveda-Ortega

Update: The DEA has released a statement defending the money laundering stings.


The New York Times details the extradition papers of Harold Mauricio Poveda-Ortega, presumably in an effort to show another example of how the DEA is involved in money laundering stings. So what else is new? If you want more details, check out the 15 page magazine article of the magazine that obtained the documents (it's in Spanish.)

What the Times doesn't mention is that Harold Mauricio Poveda-Ortega is charged in federal court with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise under 21 USC 848, the "kingpin" statute, and facing a potential life sentence when he gets here. [More...]

The case is 09-cr-633. One co-defendant, John Frank Bonilla-Cristancho, has been extradited from Colombia. Another, Maurcio Munoz-Correa, who was arrested during the raid on Poveda-Ortega's mansion in October, 2008, was extradited from Mexico last month. According to the docket, both are engaged in plea discussions.

How did Poveda escape the raid? With help from the Mexican police: The former commissioner of the Federal Preventive Police, Victor Gerardo Garay Cadena, was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing money and jewelry from Poveada's home during the 2008 raid in which he escaped.

Congress has hardly been in the dark about Poveda-Ortega. In his March, 2011 Congressional testimony, DEA Chief of Operations Thomas Harrigan said:

On November 4, 2010, the Government of Mexico Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (SSP) Sensitive Investigation Unit (SIU) arrested CPOT Harold Mauricio Poveda-Ortega in Mexico City, Mexico. Poveda-Ortega was the primary source of supply for the Beltran-Leyva DTO. The Poveda-Ortega DTO was responsible for coordinating the distribution of approximately 20,000 kilograms of cocaine per month to several Mexican DTOs.

The DEA doesn't work alone in Mexico. As Harrigan told them:

DEA has the largest U.S. law enforcement presence in Mexico with offices in Mexico City, Tijuana, Hermosillo, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Mazatlan, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, and Merida, with 60 Special Agent positions.

FBI Resolution Six (R-6) Agents, co-located with DEA Agents, coordinate drug and gang investigations conducted in Mexico. They are also responsible for supporting domestic cases for U.S. prosecution, cultivating liaison contacts within Mexico, and supporting bilateral criminal enterprise initiatives.

Working closely with counterparts assigned to the Mexican Embassy, Legal Attaches, the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), and the Southwest Intelligence Group, as well as with our federal partners in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and components within the Department of Justice (DOJ), i.e. the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Marshals Service (USMS), we leverage all available resources and expertise.

Close coordination with impacted state and local law enforcement and Mexican counterparts allow real-time access to intelligence and information that facilitated more than 800 convictions related to Mexican DTOs in 2009 alone.

Bonilla-Cristancho was arrested in Colombia in March, 2010 and ordered extradited from Colombia in March, 2011.

Here's the video of Poveda-Ortega's presentment to the media following his 2010 arrest.

So the DEA conducted a money laundering sting and kept it alive long enough to bring prosecutable and extraditable cases against the perpetrators. That's what it has always done. Congress has approved massive budgets for the agencies involved so that it can accomplish these stings. How hypocritical for Republicans to complain when its mission succeeded. Total phony outrage.

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