The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is tracking two allies of Colombian businessman Alex Saab, accused of being Nicolas Maduro’s top money launderer, according to a report in the newspaper El Tiempo.
Saab was arrested on two US-requested Interpol warrants on June 12 in Cape Verde, Africa, and remanded to house arrest there this week. The plane in which he was captured departed from Venezuela and the Nicolas Maduro regime publicly identified him as an agent.
However, brothers Juan Jose and Reinaldo Slebi de la Rosa are old Barranquilla friends of Saab. The brothers are golfers, owners of companies in Colombia and Panama, and members of an exclusive club in Barranquilla, according to the Colombian newspaper. The Slebi brothers put Saab in contact with Alvaro Pulido, who is now a fugitive.
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According to El Tiempo, the DEA is not only after the Slebis because of their social ties to Saab. Among the transactions that appear in the file that served as the base for requesting Saab’s capture in Cape Verde last June 13, there are at least seven operations in which the businessmen get mentioned.
“Sources aware of the process confirmed to this newspaper that the money orders get linked to a credit card belonging to Juan Jose Slebi, which protected Saab and Pulido,” said the Colombian newspaper.
According to an investigation by El Tiempo, DEA agents documented that this way, Saab moved at least $420,000 to the United States.
“We are investigating whether the silver (plata, slang for money in Venezuela and Colombia) get linked to exports of construction material, which entered Venezuela from Ecuador, in an irregular manner,” the Colombian newspaper detailed.
The newspaper added that members of Saab’s defense allege that they have the evidence of the legality of the operations, and that is why the US had to withdraw seven of the eight charges it presented to Cape Verde for Saab’s extradition. However, federal agents told El Tiempo that the accusations remain firm in a Miami court.
The US money-laundering expert and college professor Bruce Bagley is already serving a 10-year sentence for acting as a middleman of Saab and Pulido in banking transactions involving several million dollars.