A group of Colombians used the Chinese counterfeit market to launder more than $5 billion for drug traffickers in the United States, Europe and Asia, says the New York Times. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn outlined a global scheme to disguise drug money as it traveled through Hong Kong, Spain, Ecuador and Venezuela, among other places. The accused ringleaders, Christian Duque-Aristizabal, 36, and Jhon Hincapie-Ramirez, 54, were under arrest in Latin America awaiting extradition. A third defendant, Henry Poveda, 49, was captured in Honolulu on Aug. 23 and pleaded not guilty Thursday in Brooklyn.
The three men operated a number of businesses to disguise drug money, according to the criminal complaint. One involved using brokers who would trade “dirty” American dollars tied to drug profits for “clean” Colombian pesos not used in the drug trade. A vast majority of the proceeds — amounting to billions of dollars, the complaint said — was laundered through the counterfeit goods market in China.