|NTR Metals is the largest money-laundering prosecution involving precious metals in U.S. history, authorities say.
“The scope of the conspiracy is enormous,” federal prosecutor Francisco Maderal told a judge during a hearing in Miami last year. Last March, federal prosecutors in Miami charged 3 NTR traders with money laundering, saying the three men bought $3.6 billion of illegal gold from criminal groups in Latin America.|
So far, the scandal shut down NTR and cost its Dallas-based parent company, Elemetal, the ability to trade gold on bullion and commodity exchanges.
|Prosecutors claimed the gold traders, who eventually pleaded guilty, fueled “illegal gold mining, foreign bribery [and] narcotics trafficking.”|
|Pedro Pérez Miranda - Peter Ferrari||In 2012, the company did relatively little business in Latin America. But the next year, NTR struck a rich vein, becoming the largest U.S. importer of Peruvian gold with $980 million worth of deals. They did it with help from Peruvian businessman Pedro Pérez Miranda, who is suspected by authorities in Peru and the United States of laundering drug money
through the gold trade.
Over the past two decades, as the U.S. war on drugs undercut the cash flow of narco-traffickers, kingpins diversified into Latin America’s gold industry. By using drug profits to mine and sell gold, criminal organizations can launder staggering amounts of money.
|In 2013, NTR went on to buy $400 million in gold from Ferrari|
|NTR’s Peruvian operations collapsed at the end of 2013 when local authorities raided a storage facility outside Lima holding gold that belonged to Ferrari and other traders. Agents seized $18.8 million worth of gold. But the party wasn’t over — it simply moved to neighboring countries. In 2014, NTR began smuggling gold across the border to Ecuador and Bolivia. When local governments in those countries also begun cracking down the party moved again, this time to Colombia. In 2015, NTR’s imports from Colombia soared to $722 million. That accounted for more than half of the country’s gold exports to the United States.||Illegal mining has devastated the rainforests of Colombia and other gold-producing nations.|
| Colombia exported 64 tons of gold in 2016, much of it to the United States, according to government statistics. That same year, Colombia’s large-scale, legal mining operations produced only eight tons. A significant part of the gap between what Colombia’s big mines produce and what the country exports is unlicensed and untaxed gold — often unearthed at any cost by operations controlled by narco-traffickers and other criminals.|
Drug-cartel associates posing as precious-metals traders buy and mine gold in Latin America. Cocaine profits are their seed money. They sell the metal through front companies — hiding its criminal taint — to refineries in the United States and other major gold-buying nations.
|Once the deal is made, the cocaine kingpins have successfully turned their dirty gold into clean cash. To the outside world, they’re not drug dealers anymore; they’re gold traders.|