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Member of Ring Pleads Guilty to Trafficking in Cocaine

August 27, 1987|DENISE HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

A Glendale man has pleaded guilty in federal court to money-laundering and cocaine-trafficking charges stemming from a two-year federal undercover investigation into a Colombian cocaine ring, authorities said.

Jorge H. Restrepo, 40, a Colombian national, pleaded guilty Tuesday to distributing 65 pounds of cocaine and delivering $440,550 in narcotics money to undercover law-enforcement agents in Burbank posing as money launderers, said Assistant U. S. Atty. Russell Hayman. Restrepo was part of an international money-laundering ring allegedly headed by Anibal Zapata, whom Hayman described as the head of a major drug syndicate in Colombia.

The undercover operation, headed by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and called "Operation Pisces," has led to at least 24 indictments and 465 arrests, Hayman said. Nine tons of cocaine and at least $50 million in cash and assets have been seized nationwide, he said.

Restrepo was arrested at a motel near Los Angeles International Airport as he carried a suitcase with 65 pounds of cocaine, Hayman said. He said other arrests were made at a house in Rowland Heights, where agents seized 1,660 pounds of cocaine.

Restrepo faces a possible life term in prison and heavy fines when he returns for sentencing before U. S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson on Sept. 29. He is the sixth suspected member of the drug cabal to plead guilty to charges, Hayman said.

Zapata, who was also charged with cocaine trafficking, is expected to go to trial in Los Angeles federal court this November, Hayman said.

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