U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Executive Associate Director Derek Benner and Assistant Director Raymond Villanueva traveled to Colombia to attend several high level meetings with their Colombian counterparts, where they announced the results of two major anti-money laundering operations, Operation Viridi (known as Operación Eslabon by Colombian Law Enforcement) and Operation Sin Fronteras.
In February of 2017, HSI Bogota and the HSI Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (TCIU) initiated Operation Sin Fronteras, targeting a Money Laundering Organization (MLO) dedicated to laundering proceeds derived from narcotic trafficking in the United States and abroad. Over the course of the investigation, TCIU members have identified money brokers and couriers operating in Colombia, Mexico, and Spain responsible for the laundering of millions of dollars in narcotics proceeds. To date, Operation Sin Fronteras has resulted in the seizure of over 21 tons of cocaine and 100 arrests.
HSI Bogota special agents and the TCIU initiated Operation Viridi in November 2017 to target a Bulk Cash Smuggling Organization (BCSO) operating between Mexico, Colombia, and Europe found to utilize money couriers to smuggle large quantities of U.S. currency believed to be derived from drug trafficking concealed within double-sided suitcases, body carried, or transported internally to avoid the currency reporting requirements in violation of Colombian law. To date Operation Viridi has led to 55 arrests and 48 cash seizures totaling $5,960,676.00 USD.
To close out their trip, EAD Benner, AD Villanueva, and Attaché Sierra attended the 22nd Anniversary celebration for the Colombian National Police Customs Police (POLFA). Over the past five years contraband smuggling, weapons trafficking, trade-based money laundering, Intellectual Property Right (IPR) violations, and customs fraud have become a priority for Colombian Authorities. HSI Bogota works closely with POLFA to combat the transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) involved in these crimes and to prevent their proceeds from funding drug trafficking organizations.
HSI has over 60 offices in approximately 50 countries worldwide, where its nearly 6,500 special agents enforce over 400 federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety.