Fugitive With Links To The Late Pablo Escobar And Medellin Cartel Arrested 17 Years After Indictment; Sigifredo Maya Pleads Guilty In Florida

The long arm of U.S. law — and the long memory of U.S. law enforcement — has resulted in the guilty plea in Southern Florida of a Colombian fugitive linked to the defunct Medellin cocaine cartel and the late Pablo Escobar.

In 1989, federal prosecutors said, Sigifredo Maya directed a money courier to deliver $3 million in drug proceeds “stuffed inside six cardboard bankers boxes” from New York to Miami. The cash then was flown to Colombia and deposited in bank accounts linked to the cartel and Escobar.

Escobar was killed by Colombian National Police in 1993. Maya, now 48, was indicted in the United States in 1994. Prosecutors said he managed part of the cartel’s operations in Miami.

Maya and accomplices “owned several properties and businesses in South Florida on Pablo Escobar’s behalf, and used these entities to foster cocaine shipments into Miami, and conceal money shipments back to the Medellin cartel in Colombia,” prosecutors said yesterday.

On March 18, 2011, Maya was detained in Panama “while attempting to travel to Mexico.” He was flown to Miami and arrested by the DEA.

Maya pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms (11 pounds) of cocaine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 28.

One Miami warehouse linked to Escobar contained more than 500 kilograms (1,102) pounds of cocaine in 1988, prosecutors said.

It is common for narcotics traffickers and money-launderers to attempt to conceal proceeds from criminal enterprises by disguising them as proceeds from legitimate enterprises or redirecting criminal proceeds to companies that have the outward appearance of legitimacy.

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