Pubdate: Mon, 20 Sep 1999
Source: Associated Press
Copyright: 1999 Associated Press
Author: Rachel La Corte


MIAMI (AP) - A sheriff's department that took part in a seven-year money
laundering probe received half of the $50 million seized from a marijuana
smuggler - the largest single currency seizure made by U.S. Customs.

"This is a culmination of several years of hard work on part of Customs and
Monroe County Sheriff's Office," Customs Commissioner Ray Kelly said Monday.

Customs seized the money from convicted smuggler Paul Edward Hindelang in
July 1998. Hindelang operated one of the largest marijuana smuggling
organizations in the United States between 1975 and 1981, according to Customs.

Hindelang was an associate of marijuana kingpin Julio Nasser David, who
along with his wife Sheila Arana de Nasser amassed millions in drug profits.

Hindelang was convicted in 1981 and sentenced to 30 months in prison for his
part in smuggling 500,000 pounds of marijuana into the southeastern United

At the time he agreed to forfeit all of his drug money, which he said
totaled $640,000.

But investigators discovered that Hindelang had hidden money in bank
accounts and corporations in Panama, the Turks and Caicos Islands,
Switzerland, the Netherlands Antilles and the Cayman Islands.

Hindelang used the accounts and corporations to purchase property and
businesses in Montana, California, Colorado, Texas, Oregon and Costa Rica.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office requested half the $50 million seized
since the investigation was conducted by Customs agents and Monroe County
deputies. By law, local law enforcement entities get money proportional to
the work they did and in a case.

AP-NY-09-20-99 2211EDT

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