Colombian ex associate of British gangster Curtis Warren arrested by armed police in Costa del Sol

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A former partner of notorious International drugs baron Curtis Warren has been arrested on suspicion of money laundering at his luxury Costa del Sol home.

Historic Cali Cartel drugs smuggler Mario Halley has been accused of laundering nearly £6 million from cocaine sales through a digital currency network.

Halley, jailed for six years for his part in a 1991 £80 million cocaine importation from Colombia to Britain masterminded by ex-bouncer Warren, was held at his six-bed £5,300-a-month rented mansion near Marbella.

Detectives in Spain seized more than £75,000 in cash from the property he shared with his wife and daughter as well as three designer watches and several credit cards linked to cryptocurrency accounts.

Halley lies on the ground with his hands behind his back as armed police move through the property in Marbella

Halley lies on the ground with his hands behind his back as armed police move through the property in Marbella

Detectives in Spain seized more than £75,000 in cash from the property

Detectives in Spain seized more than £75,000 in cash from the property

Cash inside a safe at the property in Marbella

Cash inside a safe at the property in Marbella

Police stack money retrieved from Halley's rented property in Marbella following the early morning raid

Police stack money retrieved from Halley’s rented property in Marbella following the early morning raid

Another £128,000 in virtual currency were confiscated by Dutch police at Halley’s home in Delft near Rotterdam, following a joint operation with Spanish officers.

Spanish police described the Colombian, a sort of European salesman for the feared Cali Cartel formed as a breakaway from Pablo Escobar and his Medellin associates in the late 80s, as Warren’s ‘long-time’ associate.

Curtis 'Cocky' Warren, 57, is a Liverpool-born gangster who became an international drug trafficker worth tens of millions of pounds

Curtis ‘Cocky’ Warren, 57, is a Liverpool-born gangster who became an international drug trafficker worth tens of millions of pounds

They did not name Curtis or Halley officially in a statement on the arrest, but gave away his identity by calling him an associate of ‘Interpol’s Target One’ when the Liverpool-born gangster was the most wanted international criminal. Well-placed sources confirmed Halley was the man arrested.

A spokesman for Spain’s National Police said: ‘National Police officers, in a joint operation with the Dutch police and co-operation from Spain’s Tax Agency, have arrested in Marbella an historic member of the Cali Cartel who was a long-time associate of the number one on the Interpol wanted list.

‘The detainee is a leading Dutch drugs trafficker of Colombian origin suspected of large-scale money laundering.

‘It’s estimated he could have moved more than £6 million in cryptocurrencies in money made from drugs trafficking.’

He added: ‘The suspect, who for a number of years had acted as a representative in Europe of the Cali Cartel, mainly in the UK and Holland, had established himself in Marbella over the summer after fleeing police pressure at his old home in the Netherlands.

‘The joint operation between the two forces began at that moment.

‘During the operation Dutch authorities discovered the detainee’s alleged illegal activity had gone from being a direct intermediary in drug smuggling operations to carry out money laundering activities relating to cocaine trafficking.

‘He used cryptocurrencies and had created a company devoted to virtual currency trading.

Halley is seen on the ground through the large front door of the mansion

Halley is seen on the ground through the large front door of the mansion

A sniffer dog goes through the boot of a car at the mansion

A sniffer dog goes through the boot of a car at the mansion

Cash stuffed into plastic bags found inside a safe

Cash stuffed into plastic bags found inside a safe

‘Dutch authorities calculate he could have moved more than £6 million through this type of digital currency and allegedly failed to declare those movements because of the supposed illicit origin of this money.’

Curtis ‘Cocky’ Warren built up a £300 million drugs empire and made the Sunday Times rich list but is now said to survive on just £20 a week in prison after being ordered to pay off a massive crime bill or face another ten years behind bars.

In his heyday his face appeared on T-shirts in his native Liverpool.

He built up the world’s largest drugs trafficking network despite leaving school with no qualifications to become a bouncer at first.

The 57-year-old hit the big time by teaming up with Halley. Warren was jailed for 12 years in 1997 for importing cocaine and cannabis worth £125 million into Britain.

He was caged again for 13 years in December 2009 for a plot to smuggle £1 million of drugs into Jersey.

In February Stephanie Smithwhite, 40, was jailed for two years after admitting an affair behind bars with Warren, who got his nickname ‘Cocky’ from his disdain of authority, at HMP Frankland near Durham.

The six-bedroom mansion Halley shares with his wife and daughter in Marbella

The six-bedroom mansion Halley shares with his wife and daughter in Marbella

Halley also had close connections with former car salesman Brian Charrington, another historic British drugs trafficker who was jailed for 15 years for cocaine trafficking by a court in the Spanish city of Alicante in November 2018.

The Cali Cartel was a drug cartel based in southern Colombia. Its founders were brothers Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela and Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela, and José Santacruz Londoño.

They broke away from Pablo Escobar and his Medellín associates in the late 1980s, when Helmer ‘Pacho’ Herrera joined what became a four-man executive board that ran the organisation.

At the height of the cartel’s reign in the mid-nineties they were said to control more than 80 per cent of the world’s cocaine market.

Source


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