Florida men charged in $1 billion illegal gold scheme

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Three Florida men have been accused by U.S. officials of importing more than $1 billion in illegally mined gold from South America in a vast money-laundering scheme.

Juan Pablo Granda, Renato Rodriguez, and Samer Barrage and accomplices from several South American countries allegedly coordinated the purchase of the illegal gold that originated from Peruvian mines controlled by drug traffickers. It was then sent to NTR Metals Miami for refinement. NTR’s Texas-based parent company has not been charged in the case.

Granda was the ringleader of the operation and considered himself the Pablo Escobar of gold smuggling, according to reports.

Granda, Rodriguez and Barrage searched for clients using “smiling and dialing” cold calls, authorities added.

Prosecutors said the three cultivated relationships with gold sellers by entertaining them and bringing to Miami. On a trip to Chile, Rodriguez and Barrage entertained a Chilean gold smuggler with alcohol and prostitutes, the complaint says.

Read more here: tampabay.com

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