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 Treasury Targets FARC Financial Network in Colombia


1/15/2008

 

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today announced the designation of one entity and six individuals acting on behalf of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC, a Colombian narco-terrorist group.

"Today's designations build upon and augment actions taken by the Colombian authorities against a FARC money exchange company established to launder illicit drug proceeds," said Adam J. Szubin, Director of OFAC. "With this action, we are commencing a campaign against the FARC's financial network to undermine this deadly narco-terrorist organization."

President George W. Bush, on May 23, 2003, designated the FARC as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act due to its extensive narcotics trafficking activities. The FARC was also named as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Secretary of State in October 1997 and was designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224 in November 2001.

The designated FARC financial network centers on the Colombian money exchange business Comercializadora Colombian Money Exchange Ltda. with offices in the cities of Bogota and Villavicencio. Comercializadora Colombian Money Exchange Ltda., a Colombian money exchange business or "profesional del cambio" in Colombia, was used to help launder the narcotics proceeds of the FARC. The enterprise accepted foreign currency from the FARC, derived from drug sales abroad, and in exchange provided pesos to the FARC that it could use in Colombia. The six individuals designated by OFAC include Jorge Eliecer Vargas Arias, Cesar Augusto Vargas Alba, Sandra Milena Vargas Soler, Dora Lilia Pava Giraldo, and Jorge Leandro Vargas Alba.

Also designated is Norberto Antonio Agudelo Velasquez, a significant drug trafficker for the FARC. Agudelo Velasquez was responsible for the production and sale of cocaine for the FARC's 27th front and also was in charge of contacting other drug traffickers to export the FARC's drugs from Colombia. The narcotics proceeds obtained by Norberto Antonio Agudelo Velasquez were laundered through the Comercializadora Colombian Money Exchange Ltda. network.

The FARC's 27th Front is led by Luis Eduardo Lopez Mendez (alias "Efren Arboleda"), who ultimately reports to FARC Secretariat Member Victor Julio Suarez Rojas (alias "Mono Jojoy"). Suarez Rojas is the FARC's Chief of Military Operations and he has served as commander of the Eastern Bloc of the FARC. Victor Julio Suarez Rojas and Luis Eduardo Lopez Mendez were previously designated by OFAC on February 18, 2004 and November 1, 2007, respectively.

This action today is part of ongoing efforts under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act to apply financial pressure against significant foreign narcotics traffickers worldwide. More than 300 businesses and individuals associated with the 68 drug kingpins have been designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act since June 2000. Today's designation would not have been possible without support from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Today's designation action freezes any assets the seven designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and entities. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1,075,000 per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000,000. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10,000,000. Other individuals face up to 10 years in prison for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code.

REPORTS

To view previous OFAC actions directed against the FARC, please visit:

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