Colombian Money Laundering Ring Broken
A Colombian money laundering network that is suspected of fraudulent transfers of more than $10 million per month was dismantled by Peruvian authorities on Monday, InsightCrime reported.
Sixteen Colombians and a Peruvian operating out of Lima, Huancayo and Iquitos, Peru, were arrested. Firearms, money, ten vehicles, three buildings, and computers were also seized in the operation.
Public Ministry officials said the organized crime group used social networking sites and websites designed to lure customers with financial problems. The names, addresses, and phone numbers of potential customers were then collected and contacted with offers of unguaranteed loans up to $25,000, the Peruvian La Republica reported. The group then charged debtors 40-60 percent monthly interest rates. Cases of defaulting debtors being kidnapped were also reported. Family members were then compelled to sell their belongings to pay the debt.
The group was dubbed “Los Armenios de Colombia” (the Armenians of Colombia) and used fruit and pastry selling as a front.
Police report that in the last year 113 Colombians have been arrested in Peru for involvement in murders, extortion, robbery, fraud and other crimes. Peru remains an operation base for foreign and domestic criminals due to its lax money laundering controls.
Despite measures designed to combat money laundering, the Peruvian government has not achieved much success in its court cases against these crimes. Widespread police corruption further ignites the situation.