Colombia arrests top Mexico drug cartel launderer

Colombian police announced Wednesday the arrest of a woman identified as a top money launderer for Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel and a top aide to the notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Dolly Cifuentes, 47, also known as "La Meno," was arrested Tuesday in the city of Medellin after an 18-month probe, national police chief General Oscar Naranjo told reporters.

Cifuentes laundered millions of Sinaloa Cartel dollars through front operations in Colombia, Panama, Mexico, Brazil and the United States, Naranjo said.

She is wanted by a US court on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

Cifuentes is the sister of a pilot who worked for the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, head of the once powerful Medellin drug cartel. Escobar was killed in a gun battle with police in 1993, and Cifuentes's brother was murdered in 2007.

She took over her brother's business with several relatives, and eventually entered a strategic alliance with "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman, police said.

The Cifuentes family has smuggled nearly 30 tonnes of cocaine into the United States for the Sinaloa Cartel over the past three years, Naranjo said, citing data from the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

Colombian drug cartels, and especially Escobar's organization, dominated drug smuggling operations into the lucrative US market up to the mid 2000s, when Mexican cartels gained strength.

The Mexican cartels need links to places like Colombia because coca, the source plant for cocaine, grows only in South America.


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