5-Year Investigation Cripples Colombian Drug Cartel

Investigation spans three continents, leads to charges against 20 people
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 3, 2011 10:39 AM CDT
In this 1983 file photo, Medellin drug cartel boss Pablo Escobar, left, watches a soccer game in Medellin, Colombia.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – An investigation on three continents that started in Boston nearly five years ago has led to drug trafficking and money laundering charges against 20 people and has crippled a major Colombian drug cartel, a US attorney announced yesterday alongside investigators from Italy and Colombia. Authorities predict the charges—and the seizure of many millions of dollars in drug proceeds—will seriously disrupt the activities of La Oficina de Envigado, a successor to Colombia's defunct Medellin cartel that has tentacles in Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

La Oficina de Envigado was formed by remnants of what was once Colombia's most fearsome cartel. Ultimately, investigators said they witnessed 100 drug pickups and linked the cartel's members to drug sales in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Houston, and other cities. Yesterday’s charges are the latest in a long fight against La Oficina de Envigado that has led to dozens of arrests and the seizure of hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of kilograms of cocaine and heroin.

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