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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Florida Man Pleads Guilty To Violating Kingpin Act Sanctions Against Venezuelan Minister And Former Vice President

Victor Mones Coro Participated in Kingpin Act Sanctions Violations Involving Venezuelan Minister And Former Vice President Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah and Venezuelan Businessman Samark Lopez Bello

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Peter C. Fitzhugh, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced that VICTOR MONES CORO (“MONES CORO”) pled guilty today to participating in a conspiracy with former Venezuelan vice president Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah (“El Aissami”) and Venezuelan businessman Samark Jose Lopez Bello (“Lopez Bello”), among others, to violate and evade sanctions imposed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (“Kingpin Act”).  MONES CORO pled guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger, and he will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein on February 26, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Victor Mones Coro has now admitted that he conspired to circumvent U.S. sanctions to help former Venezuelan vice president Tareck El Aissami, Samark Lopez Bello, and others obtain international transport via private jet.  Together with HSI, OFAC, and all of our law enforcement partners, we will continue to vigorously enforce sanctions to protect our national security.”

Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said:  “We take a great deal of pride in working alongside the US Attorney’s Office and the Department of the Treasury to ensure that the integrity and intent of U.S. sanctions is preserved both at home and abroad.  HSI, through myriad authorities, conducts criminal investigations to maintain the viability of the American financial system and prevent its misuse by foreign corrupt officials and narcotics traffickers. Today, we are reminded of our steadfast commitment to holding those willing to violate such sanctions accountable.  And to those who intend to circumvent our laws to gain power and further their corrupt practices through international crime, know you will be brought to justice.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and statements made at MONES CORO’s guilty plea[1]:

 Between in or about February 2017 and March 2019, MONES CORO conspired to violate and evade OFAC’s sanctions by providing travel services, including private jet charters, to El Aissami and Lopez Bello, as well as their relatives and associates.  El Aissami and Lopez Bello paid for these services at times through intermediaries who delivered bulk cash in Venezuela.

El Aissami became the Vice President of Venezuela in approximately January 2017 and is currently Venezuela’s Minister of Industry and National Production.  In February 2017, OFAC designated El Aissami and Lopez Bello as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act and related regulations.  As a result of OFAC’s designations, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from, among other things, engaging in transactions with or providing services to El Aissami and Lopez Bello absent authorization from OFAC. 

MONES CORO and others used American Charter Services LLC and its affiliates, all U.S. companies, to evade OFAC’s Kingpin Act sanctions in connection with transportation services provided to El Aissami and Lopez Bello.  For example, in September 2018, MONES CORO used an American Charter Services account in the United States to pay expenses for an upcoming private flight for Lopez Bello.  Similarly, MONES CORO, El Aissami, Lopez Bello, and Alejandro Miguel Leon Maal used SVMI Solution, LLC, another U.S. company, to receive payments for transportation services provided to El Aissami and Lopez Bello in violation of the Kingpin Act and the OFAC sanctions, such as a July 2018 funds transfer sent from Manhattan, New York to an SVMI Solution account in Florida. 

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MONES CORO, 51, of Florida, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate and evade the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act and the Kingpin Act regulations, as an officer of an entity that participated in the violations, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. 

Alejandro Antonio Leon Maal and Michols Orsini Quintero are currently detained while El Aissami, Lopez Bello, and Alejandro Antonio Quintavalle Yrady remain at liberty.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding efforts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the DEA’s Special Operations Division Bilateral Investigations Unit.  Mr. Berman also thanked the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and OFAC.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda L. Houle and Sam Adelsberg are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment against El Aissami, Lopez Bello, Alejandro Antonio Leon Maal, Michols Orsini Quintero, and Alejandro Antonio Quintavalle Yrady are merely accusations, and El Aissami, Lopez Bello, Leon Maal, Orsini Quintero, and Quintavalle Yrady are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] The descriptions set forth below of conduct by co-defendants Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah, Samark Jose Lopez Bello, Alejandro Miguel Leon Maal, Michols Orsini Quintero, and Alejandro Antonio Quintavalle Yrady constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation with respect to these defendants.

 

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Counterintelligence and Export Control
Contact: 
Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
19-402
Updated November 27, 2019