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 Treasury Designation Targets Elusive North Valle Cartel Leader




The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today added to its list of Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers four individuals and two companies tied to Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia, a leader of Colombia's North Valle drug cartel.

"Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia has been one of the most powerful and most elusive drug traffickers in Colombia," said Adam J. Szubin, Director of OFAC. "Today we are exposing and taking action against elements of his financial network for the first time, including seemingly legitimate companies built upon narcotics proceeds."

The four individuals act as front persons for North Valle cartel leader Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia (a.k.a. Chupeta or "Lollipop"), who was named a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker (SDNT) by OFAC in August 2000. These front individuals operate a Colombian pharmaceutical distribution company, Disdrogas Ltda., on behalf of Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia. Also designated today was a Colombian holding company named Ramirez Abadia y Cia. S.C.S.

Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia began his illicit career in narcotics trafficking with Colombia's Cali drug cartel. He was indicted on federal drug trafficking charges in Colorado in 1994 and the Eastern District of New York in 1995. Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia surrendered to Colombian authorities in 1996. Following his release from a Colombian prison in 2002, Ramirez Abadia continued his trafficking activities and closely allied himself with the North Valle drug cartel. In 2004, the District Court for the District of Columbia indicted the North Valle drug cartel under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and named Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia as one of its leaders.

Ramirez Abadia founded the holding company Ramirez y Cia. Ltda. in the late 1980s, early in his narcotics trafficking career. Ramirez Abadia eventually changed the name of the company to Disdrogas Ltda. and placed the official ownership and management in the hands of persons he could trust to protect his asset. These trusted persons included his parents, Omar Ramirez Ponce and Carmen Alicia Abadia Bastidas, and his business associates Jorge Rodrigo Salinas Cuevas and Edgar Marino Otalora Restrepo, all of whom were named today by OFAC. In addition, OFAC has designated the Colombian holding company Ramirez Abadia y Cia. S.C.S., which was created to hold real estate and other assets for Ramirez Abadia.

SDNTs are subject to the economic sanctions imposed against Colombian drug cartels in Executive Order 12978. Today's action freezes any assets found in the United States and prohibits all financial and commercial transactions by U.S. persons involving the designees.

The assets of a total of 1,294 businesses and individuals in Aruba, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, Vanuatu, Venezuela, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the United States have been designated by OFAC pursuant E.O. 12978. The 489 currently designated businesses include agricultural, aviation, consulting, construction, distribution, financial, horse breeding, hotels, investment, manufacturing, maritime, mining, offshore, industrial paper, pharmaceutical, real estate and service firms. The SDNT list includes 19 kingpins from the Cali, North Valle and North Coast drug cartels in Colombia.



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