For an international narcotic investigation, Operation Beanpot was unusual. The investigation began not with seizing drugs but by infiltrating the money laundering scheme; the cooperation between the US Drug Enforcement Administration and international law enforcement was unprecedented; and the major Colombian drug traffickers were successfully captured, extradited, and prosecuted under US law.
This case chronicles Operation Beanpot, one of the Drug Enforcement Administration's most successful investigations. The Attorney General Exempt Operation required DEA officials to pose as money launderers and infiltrate the network of drug traffickers. This surveillance yielded Colombian cell phone numbers linked to major narco-traffickers; specially vetted Colombian law enforcement teams became critically helpful in monitoring conversations on these cell phones. A year later, the wiretapping yielded yet another breakthrough: one of the drug traffickers contacted a satellite phone on board the MSC Malaga, a large container ship, and talked about passing through New Orleans. The US partnered with Romanian officials to interview a mariner of the MSC Malaga when the ship docked in Constanta, Romania. The information obtained in Constanta was enough to indict eight major Colombian narco-traffickers, and cooperation from Colombia and other countries facilitated the extradition of these suspects to Boston. Operation Beanpot ended with seven plea bargains and one trial, in which the remaining suspect was quickly pronounced guilty.
- Understand the mechanisms of successful cooperation between law enforcement in various countries.
- Understand how international law can be leveraged to weaken organized crime.
Drug Enforcement Administration, Colombia, narcotics, extradition, Attorney General Exempt Operation, money laundering, international cooperation, wiretapping, Effects Principle, Operation Beanpot, drug trafficking
Geographic: Colombia; Boston, Massachusetts; Constanta, Romania
Industry: Illegal Drugs
Event Start Date: 2005
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