Cali Drug Cartel Member Arrested for Crypto Money Laundering

  • Spanish police have arrested a man suspected of being a former member of the Colombian Cali Cartel.
  • He is accused of using cryptocurrency to launder drug money.
  • The police seized 85,000 euros and 170,000 dollars worth of cryptocurrencies.

The Spanish National Police has stopped a suspected Colombian drug trafficker who allegedly used cryptocurrency to facilitate his operations.

Spanish police have worked in partnership with Dutch law enforcement for at least two years to gather all the intelligence needed to capture the suspected criminal in Malaga.

Although Spanish police have yet to identify the man, they claim he was a member of Colombia’s Cali Cartel, once the world’s biggest cocaine smuggler (see: Season 3 of Netflix’s “Narcos”). As the cartel imploded following the arrests and extraditions of its leaders to the United States, the unidentified man carved out a new life for himself in Europe.

But, according to the police, he did not give up drug trafficking, but rather went from a “direct middleman” to a money launderer, setting up a cryptocurrency trading company as a front.

The arrested suspect, described as a “significant Dutch drug trafficker of Colombian origin”, is said to have helped launder more than 6 million euros worth of cryptocurrency. While that’s a grain of sand compared to what the Cali Cartel laundered during its heyday in the 1990s, it’s still a significant number for most people who don’t make it easy to transfer big drug shipments. .

The moment the Spanish National Police captures the unidentified suspect. Image: Police of Spain

In this weekend’s raid, Spanish police seized 85,000 euros in cash, a bank account, three cars, three luxury watches, at least 15 credit cards, several laptops and cellphones he allegedly used for illicit work. Officers also confiscated $170,000 in crypto, several crypto wallets, documents and computers after breaking into his home in Delft, Netherlands.

The Cali Cartel is known in Colombia for its rivalry with the infamous Medellin Cartel commanded by Pablo Escobar, whose brother has since publicize themselves to promote potential scams involving crypto, smartphones and Elon Musk. At the time of Escobar’s death, the Cali Cartel was believed to be in control over 80% of the global cocaine market.

According to some estimates, in 1996 the Cali Cartel generated about $7 billion in annual income from the United States alone. To launder its money, the Cali Cartel had a complex structure of more than 50 companies. When the authorities captured its ringleaders in 2006, they agreed to pay a $2.1 billion forfeiture.

The <a class=money laundering ring built by the Cali Cartel. If Monero was a thing back then… Image: US Treasury Department” src=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7″ decoding=”async” data-nimg=”responsive” class=”object-contain absolute inset-0 box-border p-0 border-0 m-auto block w-0 h-0 min-w-full max-w-full min-h-full max-h-full” style=”position:absolute;top:0;left:0;bottom:0;right:0;box-sizing:border-box;padding:0;border:none;margin:auto;display:block;width:0;height:0;min-width:100%;max-width:100%;min-height:100%;max-height:100%;object-fit:contain”/>
The money laundering ring built by the Cali Cartel. If Monero had been a thing back then… Image: US Treasury Department

But given the modus operandi of this mysterious figure who allegedly helped set up this complex criminal structure, Interpol is perhaps relieved that privacy coins like Monero only appeared decades after the Cali Cartel summit.

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