Prosecutors in Colombia held a hearing with the partner of alleged drug trafficker Guillermo León Acevedo, alias "Memo Fantasma," on possible money laundering charges, making her the third family member in his circle to face accusations by the Attorney General's Office.
The hearing with Catalina Mejía Acosta – who is Colombian but lives in Madrid, Spain – was held virtually May 25, during which the Attorney General's Office agreed to delay presenting charges against Mejía due to a change in prosecutors. According to court documents, prosecutors are seeking to charge Mejia with aggravated money laundering and illicit enrichment.
Mejía's defense lawyer, David Espinosa Acuña, also asked prosecutors to not present charges against his client to give the new prosecutor time to possibly interrogate Mejía.
Espinosa admitted to the judge that the request was unusual, but he said that this could "elucidate many questions on the part of the Attorney General's Office in respect to my client."
Julio César Ochoa Forero, prosecutor for the Attorney General’s Office, requested that the defense “commit to presenting" Mejia at the Colombian consulate in Spain. Mejía previously failed to appear at the consulate in Madrid when summoned for a hearing.
While the documents do not provide details of the investigation into Mejía by the Attorney General's Office, Mejía is Acevedo's partner and the mother of his two youngest children.
Acevedo was formally charged with money laundering and criminal conspiracy in March, and he is currently jailed at La Picota prison in Bogotá. Acevedo faces between 15 and 40 years in prison if convicted.
Acevedo has maintained his innocence, claiming that he is not accused drug lord Memo Fantasma, or "Will the Ghost."
Acevedo escaped prosecution for decades before being identified as a businessman living in Spain. His shadow life first came to light following the publication of a two-year investigation by InSight Crime in March 2020.
The InSight Crime investigation revealed Memo Fantasma's ties with drug trafficking groups in Colombia and his part in the Central Bolivar Bloc of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC), the umbrella name for what was once Colombia's shadow paramilitary army.
InSight Crime Analysis
Catalina Mejía is the third Acevedo family member to be alleged to be part of his suspected money laundering schemes.
Also charged in the case are Acevedo’s mother, Margoth de Jesús Giraldo, and his grandmother, Maria Enriqueta Ramírez, both of whom are accused of laundering funds using a series of properties and businesses linked to Acevedo.
In a 30-page charging document filed on October 20, prosecutors alleged that Acevedo and his family have laundered more than 54 billion Colombian pesos (about $14.5 million) through dozens of properties and businesses.
In the charging document, prosecutors detailed real estate used in the suspected money laundering scheme, including 26 parcels in Colombia’s northern department of Córdoba. Prosecutors allege the properties – worth about 43.3 billion Colombian pesos (about $11.5 million) – can be traced back to convicted drug traffickers who later transferred them to companies owned by Acevedo and his family.
Catalina Mejía and Acevedo maintained a relationship and lived together in Spain, out of the spotlight, according to InSight Crime's investigation.
The investigation identified several properties belonging to Acevedo in Madrid, as well as to two of his businesses, which are registered with a law firm in the same city.