BUENOS AIRES – The widow and son of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar are being investigated in Argentina for laundering $15 million through local companies, the Argentine Security Ministry and Colombia’s Information and Analysis Unit (UIAF) confirmed on Monday.
Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, Argentine Financial Information Unit chief Mariano Federici and his Colombian counterpart, Juan Francisco Espinosa, designated Maria Victoria Henao and Pablo Escobar Jr. as alleged links between Colombian drug trafficker Jose Bayron Piedrahita Ceballos and as yet unnamed Argentine businessmen.
Henao and the younger Escobar, whose identities in Argentina allegedly were Maria Isabel Santos and Sebastian Marroquin, facilitated contacts so that Ceballos could hide his illegal activities involving Argentine corporations, according to the investigation undertaken in Colombia, the US and Argentina.
Piedrahita Ceballos has an outstanding extradition order issued by the US, where he is charged with drug trafficking and corruption, although he is under arrest in Colombia.
An operation mounted by the Colombian Attorney General’s Office, the US Drug Enforcement Administration and Argentine authorities uncovered evidence that Piedrahita “had laundered money for several drug trafficking networks.”
One of those is based in Argentina and, the investigation found, laundered $15 million through at least two companies.
Escobar’s relatives supposedly collected 4.5 percent of the total money laundered through the companies as a fee for their services.
Espinosa said that Argentina proved to have the “conditions that made it a friendly country” for Piedrahita Ceballos’s illegal activities.
Federici, meanwhile, said that the investigation had not yet concluded, adding that suspicions are that former Colombian soccer player Mauricio Serna and former Argentine officials whom he refused to identify “until full confirmation” is obtained were also involved.