Juan Pablo Granda had a simple job — go into South American jungles and buy gold for his employer, NTR Metals, to smelt.
After U.S. investigators began examining whether NTR might have helped traffickers convert cocaine profits into cash, the company hired Jones Day to review its practices — and Granda agreed to help the law firm, his lawyer said. So, when NTR told him to fly home last week for a meeting, nothing seemed amiss. But by the time that was over, he’d been fired.
Then his mother called from the home they shared in Miami. “She said, ‘Listen, I’ve got all these FBI agents here, they might want to arrest you,”’ said Granda’s attorney, Edward O’Donnell IV. “So he got in his car and went to his mom’s house. He talked to the FBI agents, and they arrested him.”
Granda, 35, was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering for his role in a smuggling network in which NTR allegedly helped South American drug dealers reap billions of dollars in cash from gold mined illegally in the Amazon.
Jailed since his March 15 arrest, Granda was denied bail Monday in federal court in Miami after a prosecutor said he might flee. The judge said Granda can ask again for bail at an arraignment set for March 31. At the hearing, a prosecutor said Granda played a key role in a conspiracy that involved laundering more than $1 billion in illicit gold sales.
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