Spanish police dismantle a money laundering ring Tuesday run by the girlfriend of a Colombian drug lord.
The police arrested nine suspects, four of which were Colombian, four Spanish, and one Armenian. Authorities claimed that the ring was run by the girlfriend of Luis Augustin Caciendo Velandia, alias “Don Lucho,” a convicted Colombian drug lord who is currently serving time in a U.S. prison.
The arrests marked the culmination of a year-long investigation that discovered a money laundering network of shell companies that received drug money from Colombia, Mexico, and Panama and white-washed the money in Spain.
The money was used to buy gold jewelry that was then smelted down into ingots and disguised as copper to fool customs inspectors. They also used the money to buy 30 properties across Spain valued at $17 million and 15 luxury cars worth more than $2 million.
Don Lucho ran a cartel that specialized in money laundering prior to his arrest, and was thought to have laundered $1.5 billion between 2005 and 2009. He was arrested on drug charges and extradited to the U.S. in 2010.