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Monday, November 30, 2009

HURRICANE SEASON OFFICIALLY ENDS – ADMINISTRATOR FUGATE URGES VIGILANCE

Today, November 30, 2009, marks the official end of the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season and with that, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate reminds citizens to remain vigilant and stay prepared. Disasters are not limited to hurricanes or a specific time of year – they can occur anytime, anywhere. “I can never remind people enough to stay prepared for potential disasters. We must never let our guard down. I am thankful for a quieter than usual hurricane season, but the fact remains disasters may occur at any time and without warning, said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “As we head into the winter season, we must all remain vigilant and remember to take the time to prepare ourselves and our families. Assemble a kit, have a family disaster plan and stay informed during disasters.”

Winter weather, increased holiday traveling, and holiday fire safety are opportunities to focus on personal preparedness. Gather a preparedness kit including a 3-day supply of food and water, blankets, and first-aid kit for both your home and car. Ensure your family preparedness plan and contacts are up to date and exercise your plan. Finally, learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government.

Please visit: www.ready.gov or www.fema.gov for more preparedness information.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Treasury Designates Financial Network Tied to the Rodriguez Orejuela Family as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated a network of 14 individuals and 25 companies in Colombia, Spain and the Netherlands as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs) for supporting the network of Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, leader of the Cali Cartel. Hernando Mejia Uribe, a Colombian national, is the lynchpin of this network of Colombians and Spaniards who collaborated to hide assets belonging to the previously designated family members of Cali Cartel leaders Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela. Today's action is being taken pursuant to Executive Order 12978, which freezes any assets the designated entities may have that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits all financial and commercial transactions by any U.S. person with those entities.

Hernando Mejia Uribe is a long-time associate of Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela and controlled a number of Colombian properties belonging to previously designated Rodriguez Orejuela family members. In February 2009, Mejia Uribe was arrested by Colombian authorities, along with Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela's children, Humberto, Jaime, and Maria Alexandra Rodriguez Mondragon, on charges of money laundering and acting as a front person for the Rodriguez Orejuela family.

"Today's designation of a previously hidden, multi-national network demonstrates the great lengths that the Rodriquez Orejuela family has gone to hide their assets from authorities – and OFAC's commitment for almost fifteen years to expose and block assets from their drug trafficking and money laundering activities in support the Government of Columbia's counter-narcotics efforts," said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin.

Hernando Mejia Uribe owns or controls a number of Colombian companies, principally located in Cartagena, Colombia, including: Inversiones El Progreso S.A., Euromar Caribe S.A., and Inversiones Lamarc S.A. Mejia Uribe's network also includes his wife, Maria Emma Botero Aristizabal; lawyers Luis Carlos Gamboa Morales and Luis Gonzalo Baena Cardenas; and accountants Inmaculada Diaz Chacon and Sixto Parra Millares. Through the companies Inversiones El Progreso S.A. and Under Par Real Estate S.L., the Mejia Uribe network is involved in real estate projects in Cartagena, Colombia with the two Spanish developers Laureano Ramos Rodriguez and Marco Jose Fernandez Montero Additionally, the Spanish developers control a number of companies including: Under Par Real Estate S.L., Auriga Interlexus S.L., and Servicios De Control Integral De Obras S.L. in Spain and Colombia Real Estate Development B.V. and Arawak Holding B.V. in the Netherlands. The individuals and entities are all targeted in today's action.

In 2006, Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and money laundering charges in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In connection with Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuelas' guilty pleas, 28 of their family members who were previously designated as SDNTs entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of the Treasury in September 2006.

As part of this agreement, the 28 family members were obligated to identify all "forfeitable property" financed in whole or in part with narcotics proceeds and to identify all other assets of any nature whatsoever that are owned or controlled by any family member who is a party to the agreement. The Hernando Mejia Uribe financial network identified today worked to conceal assets that were not previously identified by several Rodriguez Orejuela family members who are designated as SDNTs by OFAC.

Today's designation is part of the ongoing interagency effort by the Departments of the Treasury, Justice, State and Homeland Security to implement Executive Order 12978 which applies financial sanctions to Colombia's drug cartels.