HomeNewsBriefArgentina Advances Laundering Case Against Pablo Escobar’s Wife, Son
BRIEF

Argentina Advances Laundering Case Against Pablo Escobar’s Wife, Son

ARGENTINA / 6 JUN 2018 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

The widow and son of the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar as well as a former soccer star are accused of participating in a money laundering scheme in Argentina involving another powerful Colombian crime boss, underlining Argentine authorities’ efforts to address the country’s persistent attractiveness for foreign criminals.

Federal Judge Morón Néstor Barral determined on June 4 that there is sufficient evidence to allow a money laundering case to proceed against Escobar's widow María Isabel Santos Caballero and her son Sebastián Marroquín.

Barral agreed with the prosecution’s accusations that Escobar’s widow and son “provided essential support" for an operation that laundered millions of dollars in illicit proceeds belonging to José Piedrahita Ceballos, a suspected long-time drug trafficker who was arrested last year and is currently in Colombian custody facing extradition to the United States.

Authorities believe that Escobar’s relatives were the ones to introduce Piedrahita to Mateo Corvo Dolcet, a prominent Argentine lawyer involved a number of real estate affairs, and the main figure among Piedrahita’s alleged Argentine frontmen.

“As a result, Corvo Dolcet rewarded Marroquín Santos and Santos Caballero with a commission of 4.5 percent of the total investment realized,” authorities allege.

This is not the first time Escobar’s family, exiled in Argentina since the mid-1990s, has been accused of laundering drug proceeds. In 1999, similar charges were raised by Argentine authorities against Santos, before being eventually dropped.

The case has also ensnared Mauricio "Chicho" Serna, a former Colombian soccer star who played for Buenos Aires' Boca Juniors club for some time.

Despite the accusations, Santos and Marroquín remain far from a formal conviction, as Argentina’s legal process for prosecuting crimes -- in the midst of reform -- has many stages and many opportunities for appeal.

InSight Crime Analysis

The charges against Escobar's relatives serve as a reminder of Argentina’s longstanding reputation as a safe haven for foreign criminals looking to wash their dirty money. Relatively lax enforcement of immigration controls and financial activities are attractive features for criminals like Piedrahita, who exemplified an emerging generation of drug traffickers in Colombia called the “invisibles” for their tendency to adopt low-profile, non-violent ways of conducting illicit business.

SEE ALSO: Argentina News and Profile

But the case is also a positive sign that Argentine authorities are continuing to crack down on money laundering. Ramped up anti-laundering efforts began under the previous presidential administration, which undertook a gradual strengthening of financial controls to bring Argentina in line with international standards. If successful, high-profile cases like the one involving Escobar's relatives will send a message that these efforts are paying off.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 20 FEB 2018

Authorities in Colombia have seized properties linked to the FARC guerrilla group whose estimated value adds to evidence that…

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 2 APR 2015

Some business leaders and companies in the Mexican state of Sinaloa continue to pay their state taxes, even though the…

MEXICO / 28 AUG 2019

The discovery of a truck converted into an armored vehicle has raised alarms about escalating firepower in Guerrero, Mexico, though…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.