LOS ANGELES -- Two Argentine nationals and two local jewelry dealers have been convicted of laundering $350 million in Colombian drug profits through jewelry markets in what prosecutors said was the biggest money-laundering case ever tried in the United States.
Raul Vivas, 38, of Argentina and jewelry dealers Nazareth and Vahe Andonian of Los Angeles each were convicted of 25 felony counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to launder money.
Juan Carlos Seresi, also from Argentina, was convicted of 20 felony money laundering counts and a conspiracy count.
Each money laundering count carries a maximum 20-year prison term. The conspiracy count carries a maximum prison term of five years.
U.S. District Judge William Keller ordered jurors to resume deliberations on narcotics conspiracy counts against the four. The panel failed to reach verdicts on 27 counts against Ruben Saini, of Argentina, accused of helping to destroy evidence.
Federal prosecutors claimed Vivas created a laundering operation dubbed "La Mina," or "the mine," that was based on a triangular trade of drugs, gold and cash by Colombian drug traders. Officials have said "La Mina" may have laundered as much as $1 billion in Los Angeles and other cities, including New York and Miami.