In First For Chile, U.S. Returns $1.7 Million Seized From ‘Maza Clan’

The Santiago Times Staff

SANTIAGO – For the first time, the United States has shared a seized amount of laundered assets with the Chilean government.

During a June 8 joint proceeding, led by US Ambassador to Chile Carol Perez and President of the State Defense Council Maria Eugenia Manaud, the transfer of nearly $1,780,000 confiscated assets was announced during a ceremony held at the United States Embassy in Santiago. The event was also attended by the President of the CDE, the former President of the Agency Juan Ignacio Piña, Counselors of the entity, in addition to authorities of the Investigative Police of Chile (PDI) and representatives of various government agencies in the United States.

The Treasury of Chile recognized the support provided by the Chilean authorities to the investigations into the laundered assets that derailed the so-called “Mazza Clan” eight years ago. The criminal organization in question was responsible for the operation of laundering large amounts of money in Chile and even one of the largest ever discovered in the Americas.

In 2004, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched an investigation together with the PDI to investigate a supposed money-laundering operation, led by Mauritius Mazza, who intended to deposit 60 million dollars to the United States. The PDI was the first party to identify the international funds movement and, in collaboration with the CDE, monitored the flow of money through the Santiago International Airport.

On March 30, 2007, Mauricio Mazza boarded a flight in Santiago, bound for Los Angeles, bringing $21,419 dollars in cash and equivalent to $1,937,196 in 14 various other currencies. When he arrived to his destination he was arrested by U.S. authorities and the money was seized.

“This agreement with the American authorities constitutes a successful collaboration of the PDI, the CDE and US agencies. It not only prevents criminal associations of this magnitude to go unpunished, but allows the seizure of all assets and money that was used for the commission of unlawful activity,” stressed the President of CDE, Maria Eugenia Manaud.

This so-called “Mazza case” is still being processed in the Chilean justice system. However, the two main defendants for the CDE and leaders of the Organization: the cousins Mauricio and Luis Mazza, were sentenced by the 34 Criminal Court of Santiago to six years in prison, while the rest of the members of the criminal organization were sentenced to five years and one day of prison.

The court also ordered the confiscation of the assets of the entire Criminal Organization, an estimated worth of $5 million dollars.