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Jersey scoops Colombian drug millions

Jersey scoops Colombian drug millions

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Jersey scoops Colombian drug millions

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Jersey is to benefit from more than $3.5million dollars of seized drug money following a 15 year investigation in conjunction with US authorities.

Dubbed "Operation Cash Extraction," the money comes from the crimes of Paul Hindelang, and is 50% of the total seized - the rest is going to the US.

During the 1970's, Hindelang had been one of the most prolific and innovative smugglers of marijuana from Colombia to the United States. He was the pioneer of the ‘mother ship’ smuggling technique by which freighters loaded with marijuana sailed to US waters where they unloaded their cargo to medium sized ships which in turn divided their cargo between recreational sized craft for the trip to shore. The drugs were widely distributed in the United States.

He was caught in a ‘sting’ operation and was indicted in the US in 1981 for drug trafficking offences. He eventually entered into a plea agreement with the US authorities whereby he received a sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and forfeited $50 million to the United States. Around the time of the plea agreement, Hindelang secretly gifted part of his illicit drug proceeds to his friend and nominee Don Tomas Batalla-Esquival - a resident of Costa Rica.

Batalla-Esquival subsequently opened accounts in Switzerland into which he deposited Hindelang’s criminal funds. From the Swiss accounts, the money was transferred to Jersey where it was settled in trust. From this initial trust the funds were transferred into a complex web of further trusts and underlying companies.

Jersey authorities were alerted to the existence of a substantial trust and corporate structure containing the proceeds of Hindelang’s drug trafficking, following a disclosure made to the Police by a local financial services provider. This information was subsequently shared with the US authorities.

The US District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued four US Forfeiture Orders which were registered in Royal Court in March 2014. Following the hearings, the total sums of $7,135,075 and £302,319 were transferred to the Criminal Offences Confiscations Fund (“the COCF”).

It has now been agreed that the confiscated assets will be shared equally with the US authorities and a ceremony marking this took place in Washington this week,  which Jersey’s Attorney General, Robert MacRae QC, and John Harris, Director General of the JFSC, attended.

The Attorney General, Robert MacRae QC, said: “This case demonstrates clearly the determination of law enforcement authorities successfully to conclude a case even when it may take many years to do so. It is a truly excellent example of International co-operation which once again demonstrates that the use of nominees and complex trust structures will not defeat the efforts of law enforcement. Jersey is no hiding place for the proceeds of crime.”

Pictured: From left, John Harris, Director General, Jersey Financial Services Commission; Attorney General Robert MacRae QC; John M Farley, Director, Department of the Treasury, Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture and Matthew Allen, Assistant Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security

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Posted by Des Pyper on
Is this called Money Laundering and if it is what happens to the Local Lawyers responsible ...... Nothing?? or is this again the Jersey Way to bury the news local firms set up the Trusts are they exempt prosecution?
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