Action Designates 10 Individuals and 14 Entities, Including the Majority Owners of a Professional Soccer Team
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated 10 Colombian nationals and 14 entities, primarily located in the cities of Envigado and Medellín, Colombia pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). These individuals and entities were designated today for their active role in supporting the narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and other illicit activities of the Kingpin-designated criminal group La Oficina de Envigado (La Oficina). As a result of today’s action all assets of those designated that are based in the United States or are in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
“La Oficina has played a significant role in large-scale drug trafficking and money laundering activities, and this action builds on our continued efforts to target the cartel from all angles,” said Adam J. Szubin, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. “The diversity of those designated today – targeting a variety of companies and influential cartel members, including the majority owners of a professional soccer team – will strike at the financial core of this violent criminal network and impede its efforts to operate in the legitimate financial system.”
Among those designated today are four individuals believed to be directly involved in violence, extortion, and narcotics trafficking on behalf of La Oficina: Carlos Arturo Arredondo Ortiz (a.k.a. “Mateo”), a key underboss whose involvement with La Oficina dates to the 1980s; Félix Alberto Isaza Sánchez (a.k.a. “Beto”), one of La Oficina’s most violent drug traffickers, who has been incarcerated since 2012 and continues to operate from prison in Colombia; Nelson Darío Isaza Sánchez, the brother of “Beto” and a high-ranking officer in Envigado’s Transit Police; and Edward García Arboleda (a.k.a. “Orion”), a former police officer with longstanding involvement in extortion and debt collection for La Oficina. In addition to these individuals, the Treasury Department named Gildardo de Jesús Bedoya López, a political operative and money launderer for La Oficina, as well as the biofuels company that he partially owns, named Colombiana de Biocombustibles S.A. (COLBIO).
Also designated today are Envigado Futbol Club S.A (a.k.a. Envigado F.C., a Colombian professional soccer team) and the team’s owner, Juan Pablo Upegui Gallego. Upegui Gallego is a key associate within La Oficina and has used his position as the team’s owner to put its finances at the service of La Oficina for many years. Other entities targeted include an event promotion company, Enfarrados Company, also partially owned by Upegui Gallego, and a beauty salon and spa, Carytes Encanto y Belleza, owned by Adriana María Ruiz Madrida financial manager for La Oficina who was also designated today.
Treasury designated La Oficina as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Kingpin Act on June 26, 2014. Aside from its direct involvement in international narcotics trafficking, La Oficina also provides organized criminal groups in Colombia with violent enforcement services, including drug debt collection, extortion, and murder-for-hire. On July 1, 2014, the Treasury Department designated 12 individuals and 14 entities for their involvement in laundering drug money on behalf of La Oficina. On September 16, 2014, the Treasury Department designated eight “enforcers” for the criminal group, all of whom were known for their use of brutal violence on behalf of La Oficina.
Today’s designation was taken in close coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), with support from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center.
“Today's Treasury sanctions expose the hidden transnational organized crime reach of La Oficina de Envigado while highlighting DEA’s evolving investigative commitment to target the violence, extortion, and predatory components of the illicit drug trade which have for so long negatively impacted the welfare of all of Colombia's citizens,” said DEA Andean Regional Director Jay Bergman.
Since June 2000 more than 1,700 individuals and entities have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.
To see a chart relating to today’s action, click here.
For a complete listing of designations pursuant to the Kingpin Act, click here.
For a Financial Action Task Force 2009 report which identifies the money laundering risks facing the soccer industry, in particular the exploitation of the sector by criminals who invest illegal money into soccer, click here.