Two Woodside brothers and their Colombian mother were arrested last week for allegedly operating a multimillion-dollar money-laundering operation using profits from dealers cocaine sales, the Manhattan district attorney said.
Andres Botero, 19, and his brother Hernan Dario Botero, 23, both of 65-42 Woodside Ave., were arrested at their Woodside apartment Aug. 7, Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau said.
Their mother, Luz Mariana Gomez Alzate, 42, was taken into custody in Madrid as she arrived on a flight from Colombia on the same day, and extradition proceedings have been initiated to return her to the United States, the DA said.
All three were charged with first- and second-degree money laundering and face up to 25 years in prison if convicted, according to the district attorney. Both felonies are also punishable with a fine equal to double their profits.
The arrests were made following a two-year investigation by the Manhattan DA and the New York Police Department. The family is accused of laundering $8 million in money brought in by cocaine dealers during the two years.
We watched as this family used ruses straight out of the movies to get the money from the hands of the drug dealers to the undercover offices for it to be cleansed and redistributed, Morgenthau said.
Posing as investment advisers, detectives opened a World Trade Center office in May 1999 and took on the accused family members as clients, wiring proceeds from narcotics sales to more than 100 accounts around the world, the DA said.
Using upscale shopping bags to cart around bundles of cash, Alzate and the Boteros made more than 40 deliveries of between $30,000 and $400,000 to the detectives offices after collecting the money from people in cars, subway stations and other sites around the city, the DA said.
The money was transferred to accounts held by jewelry businesses, investment and insurance companies, airlines, import and export companies and individuals in New York and elsewhere in the United States, Europe, South America, and Asia.
More than $5 million from the operation was recovered through street seizures of cash and from assets frozen by the government, the DA said.
Officials touted the arrest as a major step in the fight to combat drug cartels and the flow of narcotics onto city streets.
Money is the lifeblood of drug trafficking, Morgenthau said. When we stop this kind of operation, we make drug dealing much less attractive to criminals.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Gilda Mariani, the chief of the DAs Money Laundering and Tax Crimes unit.
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2001 Community News Group
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