- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 26, 2001

BOGOTA, Colombia — In a joint U.S.-Colombian operation, police yesterday displayed $35 million recovered from two upscale apartments serving as "private banks" — believed to be among the largest seizures ever of drug money.
The owner of the apartments, identified by Customs Service spokesman Dean Boyd in Washington as Felix Chitiva Carrasquilla, was arrested Wednesday in Cali, leading to the raid on the two sites Friday.
Mr. Chitiva was a major target of Operation Journey, a case announced publicly in August 2000, said Mr. Boyd. The investigation involved 12 nations and resulted in the seizure of about 25 tons of cocaine and 43 persons around the world.
The money was packed in more than 300 bundles of $100,000 each. The bundles of cash were wrapped in plastic and stashed in boxes. The cash, in denominations of $20s, $50s and $100s, was shown at a news conference at national police headquarters in Bogota.
Gen. Luis Ernesto Gilibert, commander of the Colombian national police, said it could be the biggest-ever haul of drug money in the world.
About $15 million was hidden behind a bathroom wall in one apartment in northern Bogota, and $20 million was found packed behind a kitchen wall in the other apartment, officials said.
Mr. Boyd said $40 million was seized in the two apartments, but authorities in Colombia put the amount at $35 million.
At the Bogota news conference, U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson and Gen. Gilibert congratulated each other on the operation, in which the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Colombian police participated


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