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2 Venezuelans Get Prison in Drug Money Sting

September 13, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Two Venezuelans convicted in Operation Casablanca, a massive government sting operation against international drug money launderers, were sentenced in federal court Tuesday to lengthy prison terms.

Carmen Salima Yrigoyen, 45, a lawyer and former judge from Caracas, received a term of 11 years and three months. Carlos Izurieta Valery, 54, an investment broker in Venezuela, was sentenced to five years and 10 months.

Salima and Izurieta were convicted last December, along with Esperanza de Saad, 56, who operated the Miami office of the government-owned Banco Industrial De Venezuela.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, who presided at the trial, subsequently nullified the jury's verdict against de Saad, declaring that she was illegally entrapped and didn't know she was handling drug money.

The U.S. attorney's office has filed notice that it intends to appeal Friedman's decision in that matter.

Salima and Izurieta have been in custody since their arrest in May, 1998. They were among 100 foreigners and three Mexican banks indicted on money laundering charges as a result of a lengthy investigation by the U.S. Customs Service.

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