One of three Jamaicans involved in an alleged ‘sophisticated’ international scheme that laundered more than US$6 million in drug trafficking yesterday abandoned plans to challenge his extradition to the United States.
Seivwright Affleck, of an address in Portmore, St Catherine, had indicated in May that he would contest the extradition request, but yesterday when he reappeared in Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court, his legal representative , Samoi Campbell, indicated that he had consented to be extradited.
Senior Parish Judge Lori-Anne Montague then signed the committal order for extradition after Affleck signed the consent form.
Affleck and two other Jamaicans allegedly acted as money couriers and are among 19 people involved in the scheme, which has been under investigation since 2016 by law enforcement across multiple borders, including the Jamaica, the United States and Colombia, among others.
The other Jamaicans – St Devon Anthony Cover, from Manchester, and Dennis Rowe, from Kingston – waived their right to an extradition hearing when they appeared in court in May.
The Jamaicans have been charged in the United States with money laundering and aiding and abetting.
Cover allegedly handed over US$268,000 to plainclothes police or a confidential informant. Rowe reportedly handed over US$606,000, while Affleck reportedly handed over US$650,000.
Each of the defendants is said to have played different roles – money couriers, money brokers, suppliers to drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and business owners.
According to the indictment, throughout the five-year investigation dubbed Operation Thin Ice, approximately US$6 million worth of Colombian drugs passed through banks in the Caribbean, United States and Europe.
Approximately US$1 million was seized from corporate bank accounts and other investigative activities.
Investigators also traced or seized nearly 3,000 kilograms of cocaine – with a street value of over US$90 million – to the money laundering organization. This includes approximately 1,193 kilograms of cocaine seized at sea, 60 miles south of Jamaica, in July 2019, as well as 1,555 kilograms of cocaine trapped in nine scrap containers at the port of Buenaventura, Colombia, in March 2019.
Exchanging pesos on the black market
The money laundering network, which operated primarily in Barranquilla, Colombia, allegedly launders drug proceeds through intermediary banks in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean through the use of the Black Method Market Peso Exchange (BMPE).
BMPE is described in the indictment as a method by which narcotics traffickers used a third party to sell their products in the United States for pesos in Colombia.
“In a common BMPE plot, a BMPE broker will identify a South American businessman, who imports goods from places such as the United States, China or Panama, and offer the businessman South American the possibility of paying the debt owed to the exporter. in the foreign country at a significant discount compared to paying through a South American bank,” an investigator explained in the indictment.
A businessman who agrees to participate will in turn remit payment for the imported goods in the form of pesos to the broker BMPE, who will then contact a DTO and arrange the exchange of the pesos for narcotics revenue in the United States.
According to the indictment, after pickup, brokers would arrange to convey the product to the exporter in the United States, which is often accomplished by delivering the product through a third party.
Law enforcement from Jamaica, the United States, Colombia, Canada, Spain and other countries successfully infiltrated the organization and obtained hundreds of taped communications implicating the defendants via phone calls, texts, wiretaps and in-person meetings.
The charges of money laundering conspiracy and laundering monetary instruments carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to US$500,000, which is twice the amount involved.