ICE Seizes Oil Company, Wells
In what may be
a first for federal law enforcement, ICE has seized a U.S. oil company
and its 43 oil wells in Pennsylvania in an ongoing money laundering
above is one of the 43 active oil wells in Pennsylvania
seized by ICE agents as part of the continuing investigation
into convicted marijuana smuggler Paul Hindelang.
Special Agent-in-Charge for Miami Jesus Torres and Col. Rick Ramsay,
Under Sheriff of the Monroe County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office,
announced the seizure January 22. The assets, which also include
numerous trusts and bank accounts in Europe, are valued at roughly
$6.5 million, bringing the total amount seized in this ongoing
money laundering investigation to more than $70 million.
21, ICE agents seized Shaboom Oil, Inc., its 43 operating oil
wells and the mineral rights to approximately 1,100 acres of land
in the Allegheny National Forest in northwest Pennsylvania. ICE
agents also seized a Panama-based investment company that owns
Shaboom Oil. In the principality of Monaco, ICE agents seized
assets in numerous trusts and bank accounts.
The oil company,
its oil fields and the other assets have all been linked to Paul
Edward Hindelang, who operated one of the nation’s largest
marijuana smuggling operations in the late 1970s. In 1981, Hindelang
pled guilty to importing roughly 250 tons of marijuana, and conspiring
to import an additional 150,000 pounds of marijuana into Florida,
Louisiana and other U.S. locations. As part of his plea agreement,
Hindelang agreed to forfeit $640,000 to U.S. authorities, asserting
this amount represented all his illegally earned assets.
later, ICE agents learned that Hindelang had hidden away millions
of dollars worth of drug funds in overseas accounts. Working together
with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, ICE launched “Operation
Cash Extraction” in 1992 to track down Hindelang’s
hidden funds. After years of investigative work, agents found
many of his assets in a maze of offshore accounts and corporations
in Switzerland, Panama, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Netherlands
Antilles, the Cayman Islands and other locations.
In 1998, ICE
agents seized $50 million from accounts tied to Hindelang. The
agents continued their search and, in 1999, located additional
drug proceeds in bank accounts in the Channel Islands (in Jersey
and Guernsey) and invested in a property in Colorado. ICE agents
launched forfeiture proceedings and were ultimately able to recover
approximately $15 million in assets that constituted illicit proceeds
of drug sales.
further investigation by ICE and the Monroe County Sheriff’s
Office turned up an additional $6.5 million worth of illicit assets
in Monaco and the United States. The investigation into Hindelang’s
drug funds continues.