(DEA chief says 150 jailed, $44 million seized)  (650)
By Louise Fenner
1SIA Staff Writer
Washington -- A multinational law enforcement operation has disrupted the
money laundering activities of the Cali drug cartel and confirmed the
Colombian link with the Sicilian Mafia and other criminal organizations in

The two-year undercover operation involved seven other countries, Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) chief Robert Bonner told a September 28
news conference.  So far, he said, more than 150 persons have been
arrested, including seven of the most important financial operatives of the
Cali cartel, and $44 million in cartel assets seized.

The majority of arrests were in the United States, but Italian authorities
also arrested 30 persons and seized $1 million.  Colombia, Spain, Costa
Rica, Britain, Canada, and the Caymen Islands also participated in the
investigation, known as "Operation Green Ice," contributing to the total
number of arrests and seizures.

"The cash seizures in Italy and England and Spain were in their own
currencies, which indicates that these are proceeds of sales of Colombian
cocaine in the various countries of Europe," Bonner said.

"What's been established here is the Colombian connection with the Sicilian
Mafia and other organized crime elements in Italy."  He said these criminal
organizations are acquiring "large amounts of cocaine" from the Cali cartel
"for distribution primarily in Italy and throughout Europe."

Luigi Rossi, deputy director of the Italian National Police, said that the
investigation conducted by the police and the Italian intelligence service
SISDE demonstrated the Colombian cartels' links to three Italian criminal
organizations -- the Sicilian Mafia; the Camorra, a group based in Naples;
and the 'Ndrangheta, located in the Calabria region.

Bonner said Operation Green Ice identified "seven of the top-ranking
financial managers for the Cali cartel," all Colombian nationals.  They
were lured to meetings outside Colombia and were arrested in the United
States, Costa Rica, and Italy, Bonner said.  "All are indicted in the
United States, and we expect that all seven will be tried here."

He said indictments returned by federal grand juries in Los Angeles and San
Diego name 107 defendants and charge them with, among other things,
illegally laundering drug money for the cartels.

On September 25, Bonner said, the Colombian National Police raided the
financial offices of the leader of the Cali cartel, Gilberto Rodriguez
Orejuela, "seizing financial books and records as well as computer hard
drives and discs containing financial transactions and bank account

"Through these collective multinational law enforcement efforts," he said,
"we have delivered a serious blow to the Cali cartel.  We have damaged the
cartel's financial operations and disrupted their cash flow."

General Miguel Antonio Gomez Padilla, director of the Colombian National
Police, said Colombia "is the first victim of the narcotraffic.  The
violence generated by this tragedy has left many victims in my
country....We are seeking international cooperation because Colombia alone
could never eliminate this tragedy."

He cited the actions of the police against the drug traffickers, such as the
seizure of more than 63 metric tons of cocaine last year, similar
quantities this year, the eradication campaign against opium poppy, the
capture of several narcotraffickers, and the freezing of their bank

"We believe the best tribute we can pay to the police who have been
1ssassinated in the line of duty is to continue fighting this plague until
we see it eliminated for all humanity," he said.

Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger pointed out that drug trafficking
is not a "victimless crime."  Much of the money that finances the murders
of the Colombian judges, police, and journalists, "comes out of the pocket
of American drug users," he said.

"I think our efforts to dismantle the financial operations that these
organizations run on is as important, if not more important, than the drug
seizures that we make," he said.