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News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 2, 2008

CPOT Target and Associates Sentenced in
Money Laundering Conspiracy

JUN 2 -- Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Miami Field Division, and R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida (SDFL), announce that former Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT Ricardo Mauricio Bernal Palacios, and associates, Juan Manuel Bernal Palacios and Camilo Andres Ortiz Echeverri were sentenced in connection with their guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit money laundering and 47 substantive counts of money laundering, in the SDFL.

On May 22, 2008, the following sentences were issued: Ricardo Mauricio Bernal Palacios, 210 months; Juan Bernal Palacios, 135 months, and Ortiz Echeverri, 105 months. All three defendants were also ordered, collectively, to forfeit approximately $3 million in laundered funds. The defendants had previously pled guilty to the money laundering charges in August 2007. Upon completion of their sentences, all three defendants will be deported to Colombia. Ricardo Mauricio Bernal Palacios, Juan Bernal Palacios and Ortiz Echeverri were charged in an indictment unsealed on March 6, 2006, that alleged from 2002 to 2006, the defendants laundered drug proceeds through the United States for the purpose of promoting cocaine distribution rings operating internationally in Colombia, Mexico and Europe. The indictment identifies more than $3 million of drug proceeds which were laundered through U.S. banks. The conspiracy to launder money included the use of Mexican casas de cambio (money exchange houses), the Colombian Black Market Peso Exchange, and U.S. bank accounts to transfer drug proceeds from Europe and Mexico to the drug traffickers in Colombia. The defendants were arrested on March 2, 2006, by law enforcement authorities in Bogotá, Colombia, pursuant to arrest warrants. The defendants were subsequently extradited to face the charges in the SDFL.

This case is the result of the combined efforts of U.S. law enforcement and Colombian, Mexican and Spanish authorities. It was investigated by the DEA, and prosecuted by the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division and the SDFL.

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