DENVER - Federal authorities have arrested the fourth suspect indicted in an international money laundering case linked to marijuana growing and dispensary businesses. The arrest comes on the same day federal agents raided four Denver locations in connection with the case.
Gerardo Uribe, a 33-year-old Colombian, was taken into custody by U.S. marshals late Wednesday morning.
He appeared at 2 p.m. in Denver federal court wearing a dark suit along with waist and ankle shackles. A judge ordered Uribe held in jail until a Monday morning detention hearing, where the defendant will learn if he'll be granted release on bond.
As Uribe moved from the court to a holding room he mouthed something and shrugged his shoulders to a woman in the public gallery. The woman, who was clearly upset, declined to talk to 7NEWS. Uribe's defense attorney, Sean McAllister, also declined comment on the case.
The federal indictment unsealed Monday charged Gerardo Uribe and his brother, Luis Uribe, along with Hector Diaz, and David Furtado, with money laundering crimes related to the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.
The Uribe brothers ran VIP Wellness Center LLC, which owned VIP Cannabis, a west Denver dispensary, and marijuana growing operations at three Denver warehouses. All four facilities were raided by Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Wednesday.
On Oct. 31, 2013, Gerardo Uribe is accused of delivering to Furtado $449,980 in cash from VIP Cannabis, the indictment states. Furtado and the Uribe brothers are also charged with laundering that "criminally derived" money through a Colorado Wells Fargo bank account in an effort to conceal it from federal authorities, the indictment states.
Federal investigators are still working to identify who in Colombia provided more than $500,000 that the suspects invested in their Colorado marijuana enterprises. Investigators are also trying to identify other potential accomplices in Colorado.
Furtado is a Denver lawyer and dispensary owner.
Diaz is a Colombian national who was arrested on a weapons charge during the raids last fall, and has also been charged in the money laundering case. He was re-arraigned in court Wednesday morning and remains free on bond.
Gerardo Uribe's Facebook page photos show him living the high life in Miami in May 2013. In the photos, he's getting out of a red Ferrari convertible, lounging with bikini-clad woman on the deck of a luxury boat and toasting champagne with friends. Other photos show him on a private jet.
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.
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.