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14 January 2009 - Media release

Uruguay's arrest of Colombian pyramid scheme suspect demonstrates power of INTERPOL

Lyon, France – INTERPOL has commended the work of police officers in Uruguay following their arrest of a Colombian national accused of involvement in defrauding thousands of investors out of millions of dollars.
Joanne Ivette León Bermúdez was arrested in Montevideo on 13 January following close co-ordination between INTERPOL’s National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in Montevideo and Bogota, and with INTERPOL’s Command and Co-ordination Centre at its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon.
The suspect is the wife of David Murcia Guzman, who was himself arrested by INTERPOL Panama in less than 24 hours last November for his involvement in the fraud and extradited to Colombia, where authorities are currently investigating whether the massive investment fraud was used by criminal organizations to launder money from drug trafficking.
“The arrest of León Bermúdez in Montevideo’s Carasco district followed intensive investigative and surveillance work by Uruguayan police officers who were able to locate and arrest her on the basis of INTERPOL notices and intelligence after she entered the country weeks ago,” said the head of INTERPOL’s NCB in Montevideo, Dr Carlos Campos Silva.
According to the charges filed against her by Colombia, León Bermúdez was closely involved with her husband and a number of other wanted associates in the pyramid scheme, in which early investors were paid generous returns with the money put in by later investors.
“Colombia keenly appreciates the fact that this suspect was arrested following the dedicated work of Uruguayan police officers using INTERPOL police tools in a case which saw many of our citizens face a financial crisis through the activity of criminal organizations,” said the interim Director of Colombia’s Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS), Dr Joaquin Polo Montalvo.
Following an initial request by NCB Bogota for the issue of a Blue Notice for León Bermúdez – which helps countries locate an individual and collect additional information about their identity or activities in relation to a crime and provides a basis for police to work together in tracking down a criminal in another country – NCB Bogota further requested the issue of a wanted person’s Red Notice to enable her arrest once she was located.
INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said that “the efficiency with which Uruguay and Colombia were able to carry out and co-ordinate this arrest reflects the power and strength of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureaus when information is shared internationally.”