News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. July 12, 2011: The founder of Colombian marketing giant, D.M.G. Group (“DMG”), will have to spend the next nine years of his life in jail.
David Eduardo Helmut Murcia Guzmán was sentenced late last week for his participation in a scheme to launder millions of dollars’ worth of illicit funds, including narcotics proceeds, through DMG.
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley previously ordered Guzman to forfeit ten properties located in southern Florida and California, and $7 million.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Pauley sentenced Murcia Guzmán, 30, of Colombia, to three years of supervised release. Murcia Guzmán was also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment and forfeit $7 million and all right, title, and interest in 10 properties located in Florida and California.
Murcia Guzmán created DMG in 2003 as a vehicle for a multi-level marketing scheme, through which customers could buy pre-paid debit cards. DMG sold these pre-paid debit cards to customers in Latin America, who could use them to purchase electronics and other items at retail stores operated by DMG. By 2008, DMG had approximately 400,000 customers. DMG ceased its operations by January 2009.
But according to the indictment, Murcia Guzmán and five co-defendants – employees and affiliates of DMG – laundered narcotics proceeds through DMG and DMG’s affiliated companies. They used the Colombian Black Market Peso Exchange, an informal value transfer system commonly used to launder illicitly-obtained dollars in the United States, in exchange for pesos taken in for “legitimate” purchases in Colombia.
Thereafter, the individual opened an account at Merrill Lynch in the United States, under the name “Blackstone International Development” (the “Blackstone Account”). Neither Murcia Guzmán nor Pabon Castro was listed as owners of the Blackstone Account.
In March 2008, Murcia Guzmán and Pabon Castro told the same individual that they had provided $2.2 million worth of Colombian Pesos to co-defendant German Enrique Serrano-Reyes in Colombia, and, in exchange, Serrano-Reyes had caused the nearly $2.2 million to be wired into the Blackstone Account through eighteen separate wire transfers.
In May 2008, the U.S. Government seized about $2.2 million from the Blackstone Account pursuant to a court order. When Murcia Guzmán was informed of the seizure of the Blackstone Account, he told the individual who set it up that he should not attempt to retrieve its contents, and should not, under any circumstances inform the authorities of Murcia Guzmán’s or Pabon Castro’s interest in the Blackstone Account.
On November 23, 2010, Murcia Guzmán pled guilty to conspiracy to launder the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.
“Murcia Guzmán wove an intricate web of deception across continents to disguise his dirty drug money and support his lavish lifestyle. But his web has been untangled and his lifestyle dramatically curtailed by this sentence,” commented Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: