Federal prosecutors Monday said they nabbed a man who used his bank accounts here in South Florida to prey on the circumstances in Venezuela to and aid drug cartels--not businessmen.
The prosecutors said it was at a Bank of America in Doral where Martin Lustgarden Acherman had his South Florida accounts, and they were part of a massive money laundering scheme to the tune of $100 million.
The government says a big chunk of that was to launder money for Colombian Drug dealers and Colombian paramilitary organizations.
The violence in Caracas and other cities and a collapsed economy have left store shelves barren. The American dollar is like gold on the black market, the lifeline for businesses so they can conduct trade outside Venezuela.
Prosecutors told a judge that Acherman, "Quarterbacked an international scheme to move U.S. dollars around on behalf of drug cartels and paramilitary organizations in Colombia."
He allegedly used three Bank of America accounts to help drug cartels launder their profits to a staggering amount.
"The government is taking this case obviously very seriously. This involves over a hundred million dollars. That's what the government is alleging," said criminal defense attorney, Mauricio Padilla, Esq.
Achermen is behind bars charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction.
Prosecutors said he would take the Colombian drug profits, run them through his accounts here and in other locations, then exchange them in Venezuela for the local currency there.
Padilla, is not involved in the case, but is familiar with the charges.
"So he had company that was basically loaning Venezuelans money so that they could trade here with American companies, but the government alleges that it was false that it was just a shell company that he was using to launder money," Padilla said.
In court Monday, prosecutors said, "He takes advantage of the unique situation in Venezuela.... has made a business of gathering U.S. dollars and making them available in places they are hard to come by such as Venezuela."
"This individual would use that to his advantage and make dollars available to people on the black market," said Padilla.
In court Monday, Acherman's attorney called some of the government's allegations fantasy, but declined to comment further.