Cali Cartel's alleged decorators arrested for laundering $30 million
Jun. 19, 1997
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Two men believed to be interior decorators for a top leader of Colombia's Cali cocaine cartel were charged with laundering $30 million in drug money.
Anthony Alexander Blarek, 56, and Frank Vincent Pellecchia, 49, were arrested Wednesday at their fashionable San Francisco home.
The pair worked, apparently exclusively, as decorators and designers for Jose Santacruz Londono, the No. 3 Cali cartel leader who was killed by Colombian police last year, said Mark Lerner, a federal prosecutor in New York City.
``Most importantly, they functioned as buyers for him,'' Lerner said. ``He obviously couldn't come to the United States and make buys himself.''
The pair allegedly designed the Casa Blanca, an $18 million replica of the White House that Santacruz built in Colombia.
The indictment accused the two men of laundering $30 million in drug money from 1979 up until Santacruz's death.
According to the indictment, they received millions of dollars over the years to buy art work, furniture, jewelry and other items for Santacruz.
The indictment alleges the decorators knew the funds were drug money.
The two men were expected to appear before a federal judge in San Francisco on Monday for a hearing on bail and their transfer to New York, where the indictment was filed because it was where some of the money was laundered.