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Miami Money Launderer Lives Good Life After Deal With U.S. Attorney


June 1993

An alleged money launderer who built major subdivisions using laundered money has continued to live an opulent life after cutting a deal with law enforcement officers (Carl Hiaasen, "The House Honcho That Coke Built," Miami Herald, 5/9/93, 1B).

Pablo Valdes, who first came to Miami with the Mariel boatlift, laundered money through 1989, when he was approached by federal agents seeking a cocaine trafficker. Threatened with arrest, Valdes cut a deal with then-United States Attorney Dexter Lehtinen. The deal, according to reporters Jeff Leen and Alina Matas, was that Valdes forfeit $4 million in drug-tainted property and admit to laundering $100,000. The true sum laundered was about $7 million.

In return, Valdes vowed to help law enforcement authorities arrest high-level cocaine traffickers and corrupt public officials. He was able to continue his business, albeit with no further money laundering. Since then, no major drug traffickers or corrupt officials have been arrested as a result of Valdes's information. In one recent case involving a bank officer and teller, prosecutors eventually dropped charges after concluding that Valdes lied.