Gang accused of gold smuggling all deny charges

| 06/10/2019
Cayman News Service
Gold found at Heathrow Airport

(CNS): Five men who have been charged with smuggling around $6 million of gold through the Cayman Islands have all now denied the various list of allegations, including money laundering, and will go on trial next month. Pedro Jose Benavides Natera, Juan Carlos Gonzales Infante, Daniel Alberto Aguilar Ferriozi, Francisco Antonio Di Ventura Herrera and Kody David Zander face a list of charges relating to one of the biggest cases Cayman authorities have ever handled.

The case spreads across the globe, involving several different countries, and was cracked open when a private jet arrived in Cayman in May from Venezuela via the Dominican Republic. Based on intelligence, the plane was stopped and searched by the local authorities, who found around $135,000 in cash hidden behind the plane’s floor panelling. The pilot and co pilot, Natera and Infante, were then arrested and charged, first with smuggling cash and later with money laundering.

Two passengers on the plane, who had declared that they were processing $2 million worth of gold bound for Switzerland through a local metal broker, were at first allowed to go free. But investigators learned that this was the second shipment of gold, following one just a week or so earlier worth around $4 million. That and issues with the paperwork raised red flags the passengers were also arrested.

As the investigation widened, the UK authorities in London, where the gold had gone on a British Airways flight, announced that they believed the loot was the proceeds of drug crime. Ferriozi and Herrera were then charged with money laundering.

The last man to find himself indicted was a local metal broker, who was arrested and charged for money laundering for his alleged part in processing the gold.

The trial, which will be heard before a jury, is expected to last at least four weeks.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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