Canadian accused of money laundering as part of sophisticated lawyer-concocted shell operation to hide proceeds of crime, extradited to New York and indicted

By Christine Duhaime | March 6th, 2020

A Canadian charged with money laundering, Enzo Vettesse, was extradited to New York last week and a 2013 sealed indictment against him, was unsealed.

On March 18, 2013, Montrealer Vettesse was caught in New York transporting a suitcase filled with US$245,000 in cash and confessed to US law enforcement that he was traveling with the money to launder it. He was released because, it appears, he then assisted US law enforcement to take down the alleged ring leader of the money laundering operation, subsequent to which his extradition was sought.

The ring leader is alleged to be Edgar Belapatino, from Peru who lives in Quebec. He too is indicted in New York and is or is being extradited.

According to an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and the IRS, Belapatino ran a sophisticated money laundering operation to wash bulk cash using shell companies set up with lawyers to conceal the illicit source of funds from the money laundering operation.

His activities laundering money as a service, in this case bulk cash through shell companies, involved trade based money laundering where false invoices are used to create a fake paper trail.

The bulk cash was the proceeds of crime alleged to be from the trafficking of narcotics.

Homeland Security Investigations intercepted communications between Belapatino and his lawyer about setting up the shell companies in a lax anti-money laundering jurisdiction to hide proceeds of drug trafficking.

It is not Belapatino’s first brush with the law.

In 2007, Belapatino was given an ultra light sentence in Montreal of only three years for obtaining fake passports from Mexico in 2003, which he sold to 100 foreign nationals from Peru. He then smuggled those 100 Peru nationals into Canada illegally for a fee of approximately $10,000 each. It is not known how he laundered those proceeds of crime or if he was charged with money laundering for his large scale organized human smuggling operation.

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