BULLETIN: Pyramid Scheme Figure Tied To International Narcotics Traffickers Pleads Guilty In Money-Laundering Conspiracy; David Murcia And Co-Conspirators Set Up ‘Hundreds Of Companies’ To Clean Up Dirty Cash
“The so-called ‘Bernie Madoff of Colombia’ now stands convicted of money-laundering . . .” – U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
BULLETIN: The Colombian mastermind of the D.M.G. Group (DMG) pyramid scheme has pleaded guilty in New York to conspiring to launder drug money in the United States.
David Eduardo Helmut Murcia Guzman (David Murcia) was extradited under heavy guard from Colombia to the United States in January. DMG was a “multi-level marketing scheme” that began in 2003, largely targeting the poor. The firm provided prepaid debit cards that permitted participants to purchase electronics through DMG, prosecutors said.
DMG’s membership ranks swelled to more than 400,000, with the scheme capturing hundreds of millions of dollars. The pyramid collapsed in 2008 — but not before Murcia and others had set up an international money-laundering operation that routed narcotics proceeds through Mexico and concealed the criminality in real estate and other holdings in the United States, prosecutors said.
“The so-called ‘Bernie Madoff of Colombia’ now stands convicted of money-laundering in Manhattan federal court,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “Criminals have an increasingly global reach. As they develop more and more sophisticated methods of concealing their criminal proceeds, we will continue to track them, working with our law enforcement partners to bring them to justice. The United States will never be a haven for illegal funds.”
Hundreds of “subsidiary and affiliated companies” were established in a bid to cleanse dirty money, prosecutors said.
Bharara’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit handled the case, which includes multiple defendants and multiple guilty pleas. The DEA, ICE, the New York Police Department and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs played prominent roles in the case.
See Aug. 9 story about the extradition of Murcia’s legal adviser Margarita Leonor Pabon Castro, who now is among six defendants who have pleaded guilty.