- Pablo Escobar’s widow and son have been charged with money laundering in Argentina.
- A former Colombian soccer player has also been charged in the case.
- The trio has been linked to a Colombian drug trafficker who was part of Escobar’s rival cartel.
An Argentine judge charged the widow and son of late Colombian drug trafficker Pablo Escobar with money laundering on Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing the judicial system’s news service.
Federal judge Nestor Barral accused Escobar’s ex-wife, Maria Isabel Santos Caballero, and his son, Juan Sebastian Marroquin Santos, who both live in Argentina, of laundering money obtained through drug trafficking. They remain free while the case proceeds, though some of their assets were frozen.
Mauricio “Chicho” Serna Valencia, a former Colombian soccer player who played for the Buenos Aires club Boca Juniors and appeared in two World Cups for the Colombian national team, was also charged. Serna splits his time between Argentina, where he lives with his 17-year-old son, and Colombia, where his wife and daughter live.
Serna is accused of being a local link for Piedrahita, who allegedly bought some of Serna’s property in Argentina when the latter planned to move to that country with his family.
Escobar’s widow and son and Serna are suspected of being intermediaries for Jose Piedrahita, laundering money through real estate in the upscale Buenos Aires neighborhood of Pilar and through a cafe known for Tango dancing.
The case has become known as “the gang of the Cafe de los Angelitos.”
Piedrahita, a Colombian drug dealer who was linked to the Cali cartel — which was the main rival of Escobar’s Medellin cartel in the 1980s and 1990s — was arrested in Colombia in September and faces extradition to the US.
In a letter delivered to the judge in mid-May, the Escobar’s widow and son reportedly said they knew Piedrahita as a cattle rancher and were unaware he was a drug trafficker. The pair has been investigated for money laundering before, but a federal tribunal in Buenos Aires closed the case in 2005.
Escobar, the head of the Medellin cartel and Colombia’s best-known drug lord, died during a police operation in 1993 — though the exact details of his death are unclear. His family has been in Argentina since the 1990s.
(Reporting for Reuters by Walter Bianchi; writing by Luc Cohen; editing by Rosalba O’Brien)