Four men indicted for funneling Colombian cash into Colorado pot operations

Attorney, 3 others indicted for money laundering

DENVER - Four men with ties to 2013 raids at Colorado medical marijuana businesses have been indicted for money laundering and other crimes.

The men are accused of wiring more than $500,000 from Colombian banks and investing it in Colorado marijuana growing and dispensary operations. Federal investigators are still working to identify who in Colombia provided the money and other potential accomplices in Colorado.

The federal grand jury indictment unsealed Monday also accuses the men of using a shell company and a Denver lawyer's trust account to launder money from illegal cultivation and distribution of marijuana.

The charges against 48-year-old David Furtado, a Denver lawyer and dispensary owner, and another dispensary owner, 28-year-old Luis Uribe, were revealed during a hearing in federal court on Monday. Uribe's older brother, Gerardo Uribe, was also indicted but he remains a fugitive.

Furtado and Luis Uribe were arrested Friday but federal prosecutors didn't release any details then.

Hector Diaz, a 49-year-old Colombian man arrested on a weapons charge during the raids last fall, has also been charged in the money laundering case.

Authorities obtained an infamous photo of Diaz wearing a DEA cap while holding two assault rifles -- one in each hand -- with two handguns tucked into his pants. DEA is the acronym for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which is investigating Diaz and the money-laundering case. 

During the Nov. 21, 2013, raids of marijuana growing and dispensary operations from Denver to Boulder County, DEA agents also seized five assault rifles, five handguns and a shotgun from Diaz's Arapahoe County home.

The indictment made public Monday said the men used the money from Colombia to purchase a sprawling warehouse facility at 5200 E. Smith Road in Denver. Their plan was to use the warehouse facility to illegally grow and distribute marijuana, the indictment states.

The indictment lays out a step-by-step conspiracy to create a sham company and several bank accounts to launder money and conceal it from state and federal authorities.  

--In 2013, federal prosecutors say, Gerardo Uribe filed documents with the Colorado Secretary of State to incorporate a front company called Colorado West Metal, LLC. Diaz was listed as the person responsible for forming the corporation.

--Furtado, the Denver attorney, was the registering agent for Colorado West Metal LLC. He opened a Wells Fargo bank account for the corporation and he was the only person who could sign the account's transactions.

--The indictment says Furtado also used his attorney trust account, held in the name of his law firm, to orchestrate the purchase of the Smith Road warehouse property.

--The indictment alleges that Diaz, Furtado and Gerardo Uribe used wire transfers to funnel $424,000 from a Colombia bank -- the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argenteria -- to the Colorado West Metal's Wells Fargo account with the intent to cultivate, manufacture and distribute marijuana.

--The indictment states Furtado wired another $120,000 from the Banco de Occidente in Colombia to his attorney trust account with Wells Fargo in Colorado, with the intent to promote the cultivation, manufacture and distribution of marijuana. 

-- On Oct. 31, 2013, Furtado met with Gerardo Uribe and obtained $449,980 in cash, the indictment states. That money came from the illegal cultivation and sale of marijuana at the VIP Wellness Center, a west Denver pot dispensary run by Gerardo Uribe, Luis Uribe and others.

The defendants were indicted on a variety of charges, ranging from conspiracy to commit money laundering to engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity.

Money laundering alone carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine.

The case is being investigated by the DEA, the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of State.

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