- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

A two-year undercover investigation involving an international Ecstasy and weapons-trafficking organization with Hollywood connections has netted its first prison sentence: a 20-year term for an executive of a Swiss-based financial, business and consulting service.

Alexandre De Basseville, 36, of Switzerland and Los Angeles, an executive board member of ADB Swiss S.A., which owns the Los Angeles-based Limelight Films Inc., was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee. The judge also ordered him to forfeit $528,500 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to distribute MDMA, or Ecstasy.

De Basseville and his co-defendant, Bruno Cavelier d’Esclavelles, 45, of Los Angeles, were arrested as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) “Operation Director’s Cut” after a two-year undercover investigation into international money laundering.

D’Esclavelles, chief executive officer at Limelight Films, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $125,000 on Dec. 15.

“The trail of dirty money is very hard to conceal,” U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said. “Here, two drug dealers and international money launderers are going to jail for a long time because federal agents and prosecutors relentlessly pursued their transactions.”

The men were arrested in June in Arlington. Also arrested in the probe were Limelight Chief Financial Officer David Liberman and three associates, all of whom were charged with conspiracy to distribute Ecstasy.

A criminal complaint in the case said De Basseville met repeatedly over the past two years with undercover agents posing as international drug traffickers. It said he offered to launder drug proceeds, supply weapons and broker Ecstasy deals for the undercover agents.

The complaint said the agents met with De Basseville and several of his associates in various locations, including Arlington, Miami, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Geneva. On two occasions, it said, De Basseville and d’Esclavelles took cash, totaling $300,000, which they thought to be drug proceeds, and laundered it for the undercover agents using Limelight Films.

In February, the complaint said, De Basseville and d’Esclavelles arranged for the sale of Ecstasy from the Netherlands from Thomas Frischknecht to an undercover agent. Mr. Frischknecht sent the agent a package containing 10,000 pills, which the agent received in Arlington, it said.

The complaint said De Basseville, d’Esclavelles and Mr. Frischknecht agreed to sell the agent 500,000 pills in the Netherlands. Mr. Frischknecht, 26, of Switzerland, was arrested in the Netherlands as the undercover agent negotiated for the delivery of the pills.

DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said authorities also arrested Fabian Pruvot, 37, Andre Prikazhikov, 31, and Brian Delansky, 33, all of Los Angeles. Mr. Pruvot and Mr. Liberman were charged with conspiracy to launder money, he said, and Mr. Prikazhikov and Mr. Delansky were charged with conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.