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 Treasury Designates Medellin Drug Lord Tied to Oficina de Envigado Organized Crime Group


7/9/2009

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated Medellin-based drug trafficker Francisco Antonio Florez Upegui (a.k.a. " Don Pacho") as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to Executive Order 12978.  Today's action also targets 18 individuals and six entities located in Colombia and Guatemala that are part of his drug trafficking network.  Florez Upegui and his associates have close ties to the Oficina de Envigado, a violent Medellin-based organized crime group that engages in large-scale drug trafficking and money laundering activities in Colombia. Specifically designed to target Columbia's drug cartels, E.O. 12978 freezes any assets the designees may have that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits all financial and commercial transactions by any U.S. person with the designated companies and individuals. 

"Francisco Antonio Florez Upegui and his extensive network of drug trafficking associates, front companies, and business managers rely on their financial networks for survival," said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin.  "We will continue to go after these drug trafficking networks and expose their support systems, forcing them out of the international financial system."

Today's designation targets key members of the Francisco Antonio Florez Upegui drug trafficking organization, including Chekri Mahmoud Harb, a significant money launderer; Carlos Enrique Gonzalez Hoyos, a key heroin distributor; brothers Robinson Duvan and Oscar Alonso Acosta Serna, significant money launderers; and Guatemalan national Jose Rodrigo Dougherty Monroy, a major cocaine distributor.   Florez Upegui's financial associates in Colombia are also targeted in today's action, including two of his brothers, Carlos Jairo and Elkin de Jesus Florez Upegui, as well as Ruth Cecilia Velasquez Rodriguez and Jairo de Jesus Velez Trujillo. Four Lebanese nationals, Imad Abdul Rahim Alvarado, Ali Mohamad Abdul Rahim, Abdul Naser Dib El Malt and Ali Ahmad Kaddoura, were also designated today.  In October 2008, Colombian authorities apprehended Florez Upegui and many of his senior associates. However, Ali Ahmad Kaddoura evaded capture in Colombia and is currently a fugitive from U.S. law enforcement.

Six entities controlled by Florez Upegui and his associates have also been designated today, including  Florez Hermanos Ltda., a hotel services company; Inversiones Florez Y Florez Y Cia S.C.A., an agricultural and livestock business; Canales Venecia Ltda., a butcher shop; Almacen Futuro No.1, a clothing store; and Variedades Harb Sport, a sports-clothing company – all located in Medellin, Colombia.  Comercial Jinan S.A., a sports store in Guatemala controlled by associate Chekri Mahmoud Harb, was also designated. 

Florez Upegui and 14 of the individuals designated by OFAC today face drug trafficking and money laundering charges in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida under a July 2008 U.S. federal indictment. In October 2008, Florez Upegui and several others were arrested by Colombian authorities as part of Operation Titan, a major Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation.  Florez Upegui began his drug trafficking activities 30 years ago as a member of the Medellin Cartel.  In recent years, the Francisco Antonio Florez Upegui organization trafficked narcotics not only to the United States, Mexico, Guatemala and Panama, but also to nations in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. 

Today's designation is part of the ongoing interagency effort by the Departments of the Treasury, Justice, State and Homeland Security to implement Executive Order 12978. OFAC worked in close coordination on this investigation with DEA offices in Miami and Bogotá.

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