Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Before and After
Check out this pretty interesting article on the “CEO of Cocaine” who was the biggest boss that you’ve seen thus far since Pablo Escobar, with reported global assets of $2.1 billion. Here’s some highlights:
Chupeta [his nickname] continued to direct his narco-trafficking operation from jail, while working on a degree in economics under the tutelage of a fellow convict, later known to the DEA as Copernico. By 2002, Chupeta had completed his sentence and, employing Copernico as an accountant, had begun making his organization even more powerful than before—as part of the Norte del Valle cartel, a loose affiliation of traffickers from the Valle del Cauca region. Chupeta expanded his money-laundering operation, employing a phalanx of legal and financial professionals. His accountants sent him daily reports on Excel spreadsheets, and the activities of his assassins were meticulously logged. “They had to account for every dime,” one law-enforcement source says. Chupeta was soon averaging $70 million a month in profits and investing in dozens of properties and businesses in Colombia. The U.S. Department of Justice would later estimate his global assets were worth some $2.1 billion.
Chupeta took extraordinary care to make sure nobody could eavesdrop on him or his employees. On the rare occasions he talked on the phone, he never discussed business. The members of the organization used their mobile phones only to call other members of their cell. To communicate with Colombia and beyond, Chupeta used encryption software to conceal information within images that could be e-mailed without risk of discovery; as his wife was a devotee of Hello Kitty, he favored pictures of the cartoon cat. Messages to and from Renteria in Cali were sent by couriers carrying envelopes containing DVDs or flash-memory chips.
Although his wife was able to amuse herself by going shopping, the exiled narco-trafficker almost never showed his face outdoors in daylight. Like many convicts, he exercised to help pass the time. “He was absolutely crazy about working out,” Francischini says. Since arriving in Brazil, Chupeta had also embarked on an ambitious program of cosmetic surgery—one that would leave him unrecognizable to anyone who knew him as the good-looking young man from Palmira. In May 2005, Chupeta paid his first visit to the clinic run by Loriti Bruel, a cosmetic surgeon in São Paulo’s wealthy Jardins neighborhood. Bruel performed four peels, lifts to both the nose and eyelids, a rhinoplasty to narrow the nose, and lipo-sculpture, a finely focused form of liposuction usually done on the face and neck. Chupeta paid in cash.
Crazy. He’s currently in jail in Brooklyn.
Check the full article here