Feds freeze Miami condos tied to Argentinian drug trafficking and money laundering scheme

Feds placed sanctions on Argentinians involved and property in Brickell owned by their companies
By Katherine Kallergis | May 24, 2019 12:30PM

The Vue at Brickell building and Gaston Tomaghelli

The Vue at Brickell building and Gaston Tomaghelli

A handful of condos in Miami were frozen by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as part of an Argentinian drug trafficking and money laundering scheme that centered around the online sale of illegal opioids in the U.S.

On Thursday, five Argentinians were indicted in U.S. District Court in Wisconsin for their role in the Goldpharma scheme. Buenos Aires-based Goldpharma, through online pharmacy websites, sells both legitimate and illegally produced drugs, including oxycodone and hydrocodone, without a prescription. The majority of its illegal opioids have been sold to customers in the U.S., according to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The federal government indicted Conrado Adolfo Frenzel, Jorge Alejandro Paura, Luciano Brunetti, Lucas Daniel Paura and Santiago Videmato.

OFAC is also blacklisting Argentine nationals Sergio David Ferrari, Gaston Tomaghelli, and Roberto Javier Perez Santoro for their role in Goldpharma’s money laundering. Ferrari operates a network of companies called the “Smile Group” that funnels the proceeds of Goldpharma’s sales back to Argentina, according to a release.

In Miami, four units in the Brickell neighborhood were blocked by the Treasury, meaning they are frozen and cannot be bought or sold. Oyster Investments LLC owns the condos, which are: units 1004 and 1603 at Vue at Brickell, at 1250 South Miami Avenue; and units 1606 and 2405 at the Sail condo building, at 170 Southeast 14th Street.

South Florida has long been a hub for illicit money laundering. In this case, Tomaghelli either purchased the units in his name, transferring ownership to Oyster Investments, or bought them under the Delaware LLC directly. Property records show the company paid between $200,000 and $250,000 per Brickell condo between 2011 and 2013, spending a total of $890,000 on the units.

The sanctions on Goldpharma mark the latest sign of the Trump administration’s crackdown on the opioid epidemic. OFAC worked with FinCen, the Justice Department, the DEA and the Argentinian government, according to the release.

“This action leverages Treasury’s unique tools to disrupt the complex global financial and logistics networks that drug kingpins rely on, and complements the efforts of our law enforcement partners who work relentlessly to combat these threats,” Sigal Mandelker, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury, said in a statement.

In recent months, federal authorities have uncovered a number of high-profile money laundering cases tied to Miami real estate. In March, the FBI announced it was opening a new task force in Miami to focus on corruption in South America.

A TRD investigation last year found that developers and real estate agents have minimal obligations to perform due diligence on their buyers or the source of their money.