The parade of defendants (and nicknames) in the National Court has been intense this Monday: El Figura, El Gordo Panceta, Paco el Peluquero, El Lupus, El Cachuli, El Doberman, El Picota… All of them have appeared before the court that this week is prosecuting the macro-alliance created by four groups of drug traffickers settled in Spain: led, among others, by the López Tardón brothers, leaders of the Los Miami clan; and Ana María Cameno, known by the alias of the queen of coke. An oral hearing that has begun with the confessions of 65 defendants (among others, that of Cameno), who have recognized the accusations of the Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office (a dozen of them only partially), seeking to reduce the prison sentence that they are requested.
The dimension of the alleged criminal network is overwhelming. More than 80 people sit on the bench of the Court for trafficking “huge and enormous amounts of cocaine” between at least 2007 and 2011, for which they established “a permanent flow” of drugs between South America and Spain, according to prosecutor Manuel Perez Veiga. For this, the indictment of the public ministry affects, of more than 650 pages, four groups of drug traffickers joined, thus composing a criminal plot “extremely complex, powerful, labyrinthine, intertwined, highly diversified and meticulously planned.” A network based on the Peninsula —but with tentacles in the United States, Colombia, Peru, the Netherlands or Italy—, which also relied on a convoluted corporate derivative to launder the millions of euros that they allegedly obtained with their dark businesses.
The trial has started with the statements of the 65 defendants who have reached an agreement in accordance with the Prosecutor’s Office, who have limited themselves to briefly admitting the facts described in the indictment. Among them are La Reina de la coca and her then-husband, David Vela, who led one of the four groups of drug traffickers. Both, for whom more than 39 years in prison are requested, have acknowledged the crimes of drug trafficking, money laundering and illegal possession of weapons. Three other leaders have also confessed: Laurentino Sánchez, Laurel; and the brothers Víctor and Raúl Juárez Smith, who led two other branches of the alliance and who face sentences of up to 33 years in prison.
Of the subgroup of Los Miami leaders, only one of its main members has confessed: María de las Nieves López Tardón. However, her brother Artemio, the true leader of this clan along with her other brother Álvaro, was not among those who admitted the accusations this Monday. The Prosecutor’s Office requests more than 46 years in prison for Artemio, but does not request penalties for Álvaro because he is currently imprisoned in the United States for laundering drug money.
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According to the Anti-Drug indictment, these are the four groups that made up the macro-alliance, for which they also had a dozen outside collaborators:
The Miami clan. A “luxurious” chalet located in the Madrid neighborhood of La Piovera-Alameda de Osuna hid the “real nerve center and base of operations” of the first group that made up the macro-alliance: the Los Miami clan, a powerful organization led by the Artemio brothers and Álvaro López Tardón, 51 and 49 years old respectively, who had gained fame in the 1990s after taking control of part of the drug business at night in the capital. From that house, together with his sister María de las Nieves and his mother María Patrocinio, the two “supreme leaders” planned the international transport of cocaine from Latin America to Europe, as well as the operations to hide the “huge” benefits they obtained, according to the public ministry.
In his indictment, the prosecutor draws a “two-headed dome”, from which the López Tardón brothers led fifty subordinates. Although both were at the same level in the ladder, the eldest (Artemio) focused his work in Spain, also in charge (along with his sister and his mother) of hiding “the enormous, immense and very high amounts of money” that they accumulated with the illegal business —nearly 24 million euros in cash were seized from them and, to hide it, they built zulos in the family home. However, Álvaro, who is currently serving a 150-year prison sentence in the US after his arrest in 2011, lived halfway between Spain and Miami, and was also dedicated to “laundering” the “exorbitant and gigantic benefits ” that they obtained.
This subgroup came to weave a broad and complex “business conglomerate”, made up of a “great diversity” of “front” companies and “straw men” (“front men”). Through them, based in Europe and the United States, the enormous amounts of money moved. With the aim of introducing the millions of euros back into the legal market, they even devised a sale-purchase operation for a counterfeit painting by the Sevillian painter Diego Velázquez, entitled Lunchfor which 24 million euros were to be paid, according to the summary.
The Queen of Coke. Ana María Cameno was not yet known as the queen of coke when this police operation took place. At that time, his aliases did not sound so bombastic: he was The Chick, the cheese either La Llorona, according to the investigations. But she was already leading, along with her then husband (David Vela, pigheaded either machin), the second group of this macro-alliance of the narco. According to the summary, both directed the branch dedicated to acquiring the cocaine supplied by the López Tardón brothers. A merchandise that they stored, treated and then allegedly distributed to buyers.
But Cameno played another key role. The prosecutor details that he acted as the “main unifying and communication element between the supreme leaders of the four large branches into which this powerful” macro-alliance was divided. In addition, he allegedly built a “gigantic” cocaine laboratory – the largest in Europe, according to the Police announced when they dismantled it – in Villanueva de Perales (Madrid), where university professors of Biochemistry from Colombia “manipulated and adulterated” the drug. At 52, La Reina de la coca is currently in prison in Spain, where she is serving a 16-year prison sentence for trying to rebuild her criminal group after being released after her arrest for this operation.
The Juárez Smith gang. The third The alliance group also had a duo as leaders: the brothers Víctor and Raúl Juárez Smith (alias tank), 46 and 41 years old respectively. According to the summary, both acted as intermediaries. First they received the cocaine from the couple formed by Ana María Cameno and David Vela; or the fourth criminal group (led by the Spanish-Colombian Laurentino Sánchez, Laurel). And then they distributed it to third parties in the Madrid neighborhood of San Blas, which they referred to in code as El Muro.
The ‘Lauro’ network. Laurentino Sanchez, Laurel, 51, directed the fourth subgroup, in charge of the distribution in Spanish territory of part of the cocaine shipments that arrived from South America, according to the public ministry. The Prosecutor’s Office details that Lauro received the drug from the couple formed by David Vela and La Reina de la coca, for its subsequent sale.
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