DEVELOPING STORY: Did Colombian Narcotics Cartel Use TelexFree To Wash Cash?

breakingnews72Headline Updated 12:15 p.m. EDT Published reports in the Dominican Republic say authorities there are trying to determine if a man arrested in a Colombian money-laundering case involving the Clan Úsuaga narcotics cartel also was involved in TelexFree.

Early reports are sketchy. Dominican media have identified the man as Jorge Mercedes Cedeño, describing him as an evangelical pastor in the Dominican Republic. Whether he had a specific church affiliation is unclear, but media reports say Colombian authorities believe churches in both Colombia and the Dominican Republic were used to wash cocaine cash.

All in all, four people with alleged ties to the cartel were arrested in Colombia this week. At least one of them is a woman.

From a May 12 Tweet by Colombian National Police:

TelexFree may be the largest combined Ponzi- and pyramid scheme in the history of MLM/networking-marketing. It may have gathered on the order of $1.8 billion in about two years of operation. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security both are involved in a U.S.-based probe of TelexFree, and TelexFree also is under investigation in Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

A TelexFree-related raid carried out last year by Dominican police occurred in the area of San Pedro de Macoris. That’s the same area in which Cedeño reportedly conducted his apparent ministry.

The PP Blog reported on May 9 that a court filing in the TelexFree bankruptcy case references “reports related to Colombian investigation.” Although the nature of the Colombian probe is not spelled out in the filing, one individual from Colombia appears to have filed a claim for $3 million.

TelexFree’s penetration of the Dominican Republic appears to have been staggering. One document in the bankruptcy case consists of 2,329 pages — a list of potential Dominican creditors. With about 55 potential creditors listed per page, the document suggests that TelexFree could have on the order of 128,000 creditors in that nation alone. Any number of individuals may have multiple TelexFree accounts.

Here’s the lede in a May 13 story in Dominican Today that reports on the arrests in Colombia and local concerns over a possible TelexFree tie (italics added/verbatim):

Santo Domingo.- The Justice Ministry’s Anti-money Laundering Unit on Wednesday reviewed computer files looking for evidence that a Colombian cartel used a local evangelical church to launder money is the same on that swindled hundreds of Dominican out of millions of dollars in the Telexfree scandal last year.

Unit director Germán Miranda said they don’t rule out that the “pastor” Jorge Mercedes Cedeño, arrested in Colombia along with others, is the same being sought in connection with the Telexfree case since last year.


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2 Responses to “DEVELOPING STORY: Did Colombian Narcotics Cartel Use TelexFree To Wash Cash?”

  1. No surprise, really. David Murcia of DMG Grupo, one of the largest pyramid schemes to hit Colombia, was widely believed to be laundering money for the various cartels, and was convicted of such in the US after being extradited from his arrest in Panama. He had a competitor that was called… DFRE? Forgot exact name. Also a pyramid scheme that the owner just disappeared before the national raid by Colombia police.

    And it’s alleged by several Mexican magazines that Daniel Filho, of DFRF, is “foreign minister of Sinaloa Cartel” in Mexico. DFRF is a suspect Ponzi scheme that claims to own gold mines in Mali among other things, but primarily solicits investments in the US among minority communities including Brazilian, French, and Chinese communities.