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October 14, 2004

Treasury Designates North Valle Drug Cartel Traffickers

The U.S. Department of the Treasury targeted the financial network of the North Valle drug cartel by adding two of its leaders, Gabriel Puerta Parra and Luis Antonio Hernandez Zea, to the list of Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs). SDNTs are subject to the economic sanctions imposed against Colombian drug cartels in Executive Order 12978.

"With actions like today's, the U.S. Government is helping to topple the financial empires of drug cartels in Colombia and around the world. This designation exposes and undermines the financial network of the North Valle drug cartel in Colombia and denies these drug lords and their businesses access to the U.S. financial sector," said Juan Zarate, Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes.

"DEA is steadfast in its mission to strip illicit profits from the organizations that supply illegal drugs to the United States. Today's action is a testament to our partnership with OFAC and our foreign law enforcement counterparts. The power of combining the enforcement tools of DEA with the immense regulatory authority of the Treasury Department casts a shadow from which drug traffickers cannot hide," said Karen P. Tandy, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Puerta Parra is a leading member of the North Valle drug cartel and is the subject of two federal criminal indictments in the United States, both unsealed earlier this year. The indictments filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia and the Southern District of Florida charge Puerta Parra with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and with conspiracy to import, possess and distribute cocaine in the United States. On October 7, 2004, Colombian National Police arrested Puerta Parra near Bogota, Colombia. He is currently awaiting extradition to the United States. Considered the statesman of the North Valle cartel, Puerta Parra has long played an influential role among drug cartel leaders, including resolving disputes within the North Valle cartel and with other drug cartels.

"We are financially isolating Puerta Parra, his business associates, and his facilitators and wiping away the veneer of legitimacy of any of their activities," Zarate continued.

In addition, the Colombian airline, Intercontinental de Aviacion S.A., and 14 other North Valle cartel businesses were also added to the list of SDNTs today. These entities were designated as they are owned or controlled by Puerta Parra and Hernandez Zea, as well as Piedad Velez Rengifo, the widow of deceased North Valle cartel kingpin Jose Orlando Henao Montoya.

Intercontinental de Aviacion S.A. is a small, regional Colombian airline that has facilitated the North Valle cartel's drug trafficking and money laundering activities since the late 1980s. The network also includes two key offshore companies, Largo Leasing Limited in the Cayman Islands and Trans Pacific World Leasing Limited in Vanuatu, which are incorporated by and directly support Intercontinental de Aviacion. The other front companies announced today include a mining company, Industrial Minera y Pecuaria S.A., two financial investment firms, Accirent S.A., and Comercializadora Andino Brasilera S.A., a civil engineering firm, Inversiones y Comercializadora Incom Ltda., an airline finance company, Intercontinental de Financiacion Aerea S.A., an aircraft parts supplier, Aerocomercial Alas de Colombia Ltda., a travel services provider, Asociacion Turistica Internacional S.C.S., and a hotel management company, Cia. Constructora y Comercializadora del Sur Ltda., all of which are located in Columbia.

Also designated today are 14 individuals who act as agents for Gabriel Puerta Parra , Luis Antonio Hernandez Zea and Piedad Velez Rengifo in the designated companies. Today's action freezes any assets found in the United States and prohibits all financial and commercial transactions between the designated persons and entities and any U.S. person.

A total of 417 Colombian drug cartel businesses are now on the SDNT list. The list also includes the paso fino horse farm Criadero La Luisa E.U., the industrial paper manufacturer Unipapel S.A., the agro-industrial business Viscaya Ltda., the Obursatiles stock brokerage firm, and the America de Cali professional soccer team, as well as other agricultural, pharmaceutical, consulting, construction, distribution, financial, investment, manufacturing, mining, real estate and service firms.

This action is part of the ongoing interagency effort, that includes the Departments of the Treasury, Justice, State and Homeland Security, to implement Executive Order 12978, signed on October 21, 1995, which applies economic sanctions against Colombia's drug cartels. Today's announcement is a result of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control's continuing close working relationship with U.S. law enforcement authorities, and particularly, in this case, DEA field offices in Phoenix and Miami. The U.S. government continues to work with and support the Colombian government in attacking the finances of Colombia's drug cartels.

The assets of a total of 1,125 businesses and individuals in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Spain, Vanuatu, Venezuela, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, and the Cayman Islands, are now blocked under E.O. 12978. The SDNT list includes 16 kingpins from the Cali, North Valle, and North Coast drug cartels in Colombia, including Gabriel Puerta Parra and Luis Antonio Hernandez Zea.

For a complete list of the entities designated today, please visit: