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Hassein Eduardo Figueroa Gomez

Hassein Eduardo Figueroa Gomez is the son of an established drug trafficker.

In November 2011, Figueroa Gomez and his father, Ezio Benjamin Figueroa Vasquez, were indicted by a US federal court in Virginia for conspiracy to launder money connected to drug trafficking. Following the indictment, both father and son, along with 16 of their companies, were sanctioned by the US Treasury, prohibiting US citizens from making financial or commercial deals with them.

Figueroa Vasquez and the Figueroa Chemical Trafficking Organisation (FCTO) have been at the top of the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) list of wanted traffickers of synthetic drugs since 2008. According to the DEA, the FCTO is connected to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the boss of Mexico’s violent Sinaloa drug cartel.

Figueroa Vasquez was arrested in Mexico in December 2011 at the request of Belgian and US authorities, due to the Virginia court’s indictment earlier that year.

The DEA alleged that the FTCO used small pharmaceutical companies from South Africa, Israel, Syria, and China to ship hundreds of tons of chemicals to Mexico, where they were used to produce synthetic narcotics.

In one illustrative example from early 2017, the directors of a Belgian pharmaceutical company based in Brussels were convicted for shipping tons of ephedrine to Mexico, where it was turned into crystal meth worth over $400 million. Seven pharmaceutical directors were charged with selling the drugs to Figueroa Vasquez, but the presiding Belgian judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to prove a strong business link.

The 16 sanctioned companies tied to Figueroa Gomez and his father, one of which is registered in Panama, show an extensive network used to traffic chemicals and launder money.

Figueroa Gomez is a director or shareholder of seven unsanctioned, active companies in the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus. A co-director or joint shareholder of six of these companies is Rodrigo Romero Mena, who has been sanctioned by the US Treasury for involvement in a chemical trafficking ring linked to Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” Guzman.

In another telling link to the drug-smuggling underworld, one of the shareholders of these Cypriot companies is Ochoa Juarez Leopoldo, a drug trafficker from Mexico who, according to media reports, was murdered in 2012. Mexican singer Gerardo Ortiz dedicated a song to the late trafficker, wherein he sang about Ochoa’s “closed deals with the princes” and “private plane from the Middle East.”

In March 2018, the same court ordered that its 2011 indictment against Figueroa Vasquez be dismissed “with prejudice,” whereas the indictment against Figueroa Gomez “remains in full effect,” which may imply that he is still at large.

Figueroa Gomez appears in a leaked database of property and residency data compiled by real estate professionals, obtained by the non-profit group C4ADS, and provided to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

He is shown in connection with three properties in Dubai, one of which is listed under the name of his Cypriot company, Ergonas Trading Limited. This apartment, worth $667,000, is located in the Marina Heights Tower, a 55-story building near the Dubai seafront. The tower’s website describes its apartments as as having “all the amenities of a hotel” (the complex includes two terrace swimming pools with jacuzzi, steam room and sauna).

The most valuable of the three properties connected to Figueroa Gomez is a penthouse at Marina Heights (one of 10 such apartments in the building) worth $2.57 million.

The third property, worth $1.1 million, is listed under Figueroa Gomez’s name and located in one of the six high rises that make up the Marina Promenade, one of Dubai’s largest luxury housing developments.

This story is part of the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium, a collaboration started by OCCRP and Transparency International. For more information, click here.