Venezuela has charged a model and former "Miss Venezuela" contestant accused of working with now-captured Colombian kingpin Daniel "El Loco" Barrera.
Gabriela Fernandez Ocando, winner of the 2008 “Miss Zulia” beauty pageant, was arrested on October 1 and has been charged with money laundering and criminal conspiracy, reported Noticias 24.
Fernandez is suspected of being part of a network that helped Loco Barrera evade authorities in Venezuela, aiding his movements around the country and lending him their names for hotel reservations, according to prosecutors.
InSight Crime Analysis
According to La Verdad, Fernandez is not the only Venezuelan model to be sought by authorities for ties to organized crime in recent months. In the two weeks prior to her arrest, authorities detained model Karla Osuna transporting several kilos of cocaine in her car, and issued an arrest warrant for model and TV actress Jimena Araya for allegedly assisting in the escape of prison gang boss Hector Jose Guerrero Flores, alias “Niño Guerrero,” from a prison in northern Venezuela.
The cases are reminiscent of that of Colombian lingerie model Angie Sanclemente, who was arrested in 2010 for allegedly recruiting young women to smuggle cocaine out of Buenos Aires.
It is not known how Loco Barrera -- who had spent some time in Venezuela before his arrest -- came to meet Fernandez, but her work to help him evade the authorities is illustrative of how high-profile women can be used to provide cover for criminal networks.