Washington D.C., August 27, 2015
Action Exposes FARC Network Operating in Switzerland
Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated four Colombian nationals residing in Switzerland as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). These individuals provided support for narcotics trafficking and money laundering activities conducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Omar Arturo Zabala Padilla (alias Lucas Gualdron), the FARC’s International Commission member for France, Italy, and Switzerland. As a result of today’s action, any assets these entities and individuals may have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
“Today’s action combats the FARC’s efforts to finance its ruthless operation and expand the flow of drugs to U.S. and world markets,” said John E. Smith, Acting Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. “The FARC is a narcotics trafficking organization and Treasury will continue to isolate its financial operatives.”
OFAC closely coordinated with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, and Customs and Border Protection to execute today’s action.
“The U.S. government continues to expose facilitators of the FARC’s global drug and money laundering empire,” said DEA Chief of Financial Operations Anthony Marotta. “The goal of DEA, OFAC, and our partner agencies is to attack worldwide criminal networks such as the FARC and their associates with coordinated, sustained efforts utilizing every available tool to disrupt and dismantle their financial and operational infrastructure. The FARC is a designated foreign terrorist organization, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to hold them accountable.”
The following four Colombian nationals were designated today because of their ties to the FARC: Jose Vicente Peña Pacheco, Adolfo Fonnegra Espejo, Ivan Gonzalez Zamorano, and Cristian David Gonzalez Mejia. Pacheco, in partnership with Padilla, leads a Swiss-based drug trafficking and money laundering network. This criminal network operates a Zurich-based business, the Colombiano Latin Shop, which provides members of the FARC with money remittance services and access to the international financial system. Espejo, Zamorano, and Mejia sourced narcotics from Colombia and Panama and distributed narcotics in Switzerland.
On May 29, 2003, the President identified the FARC as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Kingpin Act. This followed the designation of the FARC as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2001 pursuant to Executive Order 13224 and the FARC’s 1997 designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act. Padilla was designated on January 14, 2009 for his role as a FARC International Commission member. Today’s action continues OFAC’s ongoing efforts under the Kingpin Act to apply financial measures against significant foreign narcotics traffickers, narco-terrorists, and their organizations worldwide.
Since June 2000, more than 1,800 individuals and entities have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.
Chart relating to today’s action: