A conspiracy involving employees at NTR Metals was outlined in a criminal complaint against Juan Pablo Granda, 35, and implicates the North American precious metals refinery and trading company in a litany of serious actions.
The conspiracy involved the purchase of massive amounts of gold from illegal mines in Peru supporting human trafficking, forced labor and environmental devastation. The NTR Metals office in Miami laundered billions of dollars for criminal organizations like Peruvian narco-terrorists since it bought gold from their mines. It’s could be that the employees at the Miami office were not properly vetted by NTR’s corporate office, as no charges have been lodged against the company, a subsidiary of Elemetal.
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The U.S. complaint, filed in Miami, is part of a U.S. crackdown on smugglers using gold mined in the Amazon basin illegal where laborers use fire hoses and mercury to extract the nearly pure precious metal.
Smugglers, refineries and traders supply gold from illegal mines in Latin America, smuggling it into Miami and the international market.
A Bloomberg report outlined how one Chilean smuggler sold thousands of pounds contraband gold to NTR’s Miami office before being arrested in Santiago. NTR, based in Dallas, isn’t charged in the case. General counsel for parent company, Elemetal, did not comment.
NTR has likely been buying illegal gold since at least 2012. The company allegedly started “smuggling illegal gold through a shifting array of Latin American countries.” The company eventually imported $3.6 billion worth from 2012 to 2015, according to the complaint.
“For all of the billions of dollars’ worth shipped from Latin America to NTR in Miami, NTR sent billions of dollars in wire payments to Latin America from the United States,” HSI agent Colberd Almeida wrote in an affidavit.
Chilean smuggler, Harold Vilches, told U.S. and Chilean prosecutors that he sold 4,000 pounds of illegal gold mostly to NTR Metals Miami. Mr. Vilches said two NTR employees in Miami knew his gold was illegal and even coached him on how to smuggle it into the U.S.
In 2013, Peru seized $18 million, including some headed for NTR financed by narcotics money laundering.
Several Latin America countries have begun investigations, “many of which involve gold being sold to NTR,” Almeida wrote.
Ecuador arrested in a $400 million money laundering scheme involving gold mined in Peru and bound for NTR, the agent wrote. Chile arrested individuals regarding Peru and Argentina gold sold to NTR. NTR bought Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Guyana and the Caribbean from what the U.S. calls “highly suspicious gold imports.” One of these sellers refered to himself as a “modern-day Pablo Escobar.”
According to the complaint, he said: “I’m like Pablo coming to Ecuador to get the coke.”