[Exclusive] Unification Church South American Representative, Prosecuted for Money Laundering and Drug Smuggling in the US Court, Suspicious of Connection to the Church Leadership
[Exclusive] Unification Church South American Representative, Prosecuted for Money Laundering and Drug Smuggling in the US Court, Suspicious of Connection to the Church Leadership
  • Yang Cheol-seung, Kim Ji-hyeong
  • 기사승인 2020-01-20 18:05:12
  • 최종수정 2020.01.20 17:48
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Photo taken on August 19, 2019 when Tarrago visited Cheonjeong Palace of the Unification Church in Cheongpyeong, Gyeonggi-do, Korea where the Church President Hak Ja Han resided during her trip to Korea [Photograph: Tarrago Instagram].
Photo taken on August 19, 2019 when Tarrago visited Cheonjeong Palace of the Unification Church in Cheongpyeong, Gyeonggi-do, Korea where the Church President Hak Ja Han resided during her trip to Korea [Photograph: Tarrago Instagram].

As the fact that the South American representative of the Unification Church (President: Hak Ja Han) had been arrested and prosecuted for drug-related money laundering and smuggling by FBI of the US was belatedly known, a suspicion of the connection between the accused and the Church leadership has been raised, and a big stir is expected.

According to the US Department of Justice on January 20, US Attorney’s Office prosecuted three Paraguay nationals including Cynthia Elizabeth Tarrago Diaz (40), President of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP), a political organization of the Unification Church(Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. FFWPU), for money laundering and drug smuggling to the New Jersey District Court based on FBI’s investigation result on November 21, 2019 (local time).

Tarrago is a former member of parliament (MP) of Paraguay, and other people prosecuted together were Raymon Va (44), her husband, and Rodrigo Alvarenga Paredes (33), a senior official of a money exchange business.

The couple Tarrago and Va were arrested in a hotel near the Newark Liberty Airport on the same day soon after they arrived at the airport for money laundering, and now jailed in the Federal Prison in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The accomplice, Alvarenga is not arrested yet, but wanted by the Interpol. He is understood to hide in Paraguay.

Indictment submitted by the US attorney to the New Jersey district court that WikiLeaks Korea acquired. Signatures of the defendant Tarrago, the US FBI agent and the US magistrate justice can be seen. [Document: US Department of Justice]
Indictment submitted by the US attorney to the New Jersey district court that WikiLeaks-Korea acquired. Signatures of the defendant Tarrago, the US FBI agent and the US magistrate justice can be seen. [Document: US Department of Justice]

Tarrago and Va attended the New Jersey district court in Trenton, New Jersey, US on 22 November 2019, the next day of their arrest.

Craig Carpentino, federal prosecutor in charge of this case, revealed the reasons for prosecution, "Tarrago, former MP of Paraguay, shamelessly proposed laundering of international narcotics trafficking proceeds, and even made a proposition of direct trafficking of cocaine.“

The Federal Justice of the Peace, Lois H. Goodman at the New Jersey district court determined the nature of their crime was severe, and ordered, "They are not allowed to apply for bail, and should attend trials under detention.

In the criminal complaint sent by the US Attorney to the New Jersey district court acquired by <WikiLeaks-Korea>, it was revealed that "along with her husband Va, Tarrago who had publicly announced her intention to run for mayor of Asuncion agreed with undercover FBI agents, representing themselves to be drug traffickers, on laundering of minimum US$ 2 million."

In fact, the three accused including Tarrago as the main culprit demonstrated the power of the International Money Laundering Network to the undercover agents by laundering US$ 800,000, recognized as narcotics proceeds, at a 15% fee. And they consistently "proposed the trafficking of a large amount of drugs including cocaine from Paraguay to the undercover agents".

They emphasized, "We can get the drugs out of Paraguay, but the drug traffickers (undercover agents) will need to get them into the US. But if you smuggle the drugs into the US, we have our own network."

The criminal complaint filed by FBI contains the detail that Tarrago agreed on laundering of minimum US$ 2 million, recognized as the unlawful drug trafficking proceeds. [Document: US Department of Justice]
The criminal complaint filed by FBI contains the detail that Tarrago agreed on laundering of minimum US$ 2 million, recognized as the unlawful drug trafficking proceeds. [Document: US Department of Justice]

In the US, narcotics-related money laundering leads to the maximum 20 years' sentence in prison, and the fine is set to be double the amount of the implicated fund. Furthermore, if additional crimes are added, harsher punishment may be sentenced.

Tarrago had been an MP of Colorado Party of Paraguay from 2013 to 2018, and after making a public announcement that she would run for mayor of Asuncion in November, 2019, she was arrested.,

The rumour that Tarrago was associated with narcotics organizations was well known in Paraguay. Tarrago even visited Jarvis Chimenes Pavao, the "drug kingpin" of South America, jailed in a Paraguay prison when she was active as an MP in 2015, which became a local media sensation.

Commemorative picture taken on April 25, 2017, at the inaugural event for the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) at the Bourbon Hotel in Asuncion, Paraguay. (Second from left) Congressman Hector Lesme, Congresswoman Cynthia Tarrago, UPF South America representative Dongmo Shin, UPF Central America representative Changshik Yang, Sungjong Seo (other Unification Church representative), Source: Family Federation for World Peace and Unification International Headquarters Facebook page
Commemorative picture taken on April 25, 2017, at the inaugural event for the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) at the Bourbon Hotel in Asuncion, Paraguay. (Third from left) Congressman Hector Lesme, Congresswoman Cynthia Tarrago, UPF South America representative Dongmo Shin, UPF Central America representative Changshik Yang, Sungjong Seo (other Unification Church representative), Source: Family Federation for World Peace and Unification International Headquarters Facebook page

It was about this time that Tarrago began full-fledged activities in the Unification Church after joining the Unification Church's organizations, Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP) and Universal Peace Federation (UPF).

Tarago, however, got promoted very fast in the Church organization, unlike ordinary worshippers. At first, she began with an invited guest as an MP and gradually expanded the radius of her activities. Later, she went up to the stage of preparing and organizing international events not only in Paraguay but also in the entire South America.

Tarrago played a leading role in connecting top Paraguayan politicians with senior members of the Unification Church when they visited Paraguay in October 2016. At that time, the Unification Church established the IAPP as a subordinate organization in Paraguay.

The President of the Unification Church, Hak Ja Han is addressing the Latin-America Summit held from August 2 to 5, 2018 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Tarrago is seen next to her. [Photograph: Universal Peace Federation (UPF) website]
The President of the Unification Church, Hak Ja Han is addressing the Latin-America Summit held from August 2 to 5, 2018 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Tarrago is seen next to her. [Photograph: Universal Peace Federation (UPF) website]

Tarrago then was appointed as the President of IAPP in Paraguay on April 25, 2017. In the same year, she founded IAPP's South American headquarters on December 5 at the Asuncion World Trade Center in Paraguay, for which she also served as a chair for the South American region.

After all, Tarrago rose to a top position of the Unification Church for the continent, not a single country, at the age of late 30s, ahead of many former presidents and congressmen, only three years after her full-fledged activities at the Unification Church. People say that it is also unusual to set up the Unification Church's South American headquarters in Paraguay, not Brazil or Argentina.

Since then, there has been "a serious suspicion within the Unification Church that a huge amount of drug money in South America was linked to the leadership of the Church, with Tarrago as a surrogate". The Unification Church officials say, "It is impossible for Tarago with an ordinary background in the Church to take a position of the South America representative in just three years without the power of a huge amount of money". Moreover, the issue of appointing a continental representative of the Unification Church is known as "impossible without the approval of the leadership of the Church in Korea, where the President Hak Ja Han resides".

Tarrago at an event of UPF held in November 2018 at the New Yorker Hotel owned by the Unification Church. At the time, Tarrago met the FBI undercover agents, conspired money laundering and proposed drug trafficking. [Photography: Tarrago Instagram]
Tarrago at an event of UPF held in November 2018 at the New Yorker Hotel owned by the Unification Church. At the time, Tarrago met the FBI undercover agents, conspired money laundering and proposed drug trafficking. [Photography: Tarrago Instagram]

Boldly Tarrgo carried out her drug-related business when she visited various international events of the Unification Church. Tarrago met with the undercover agents disguised as drug traffickers at a UPF event at the New Yorker Hotel, owned by the Unification Church, in November 2018 to plot money laundering and propose drug trafficking. The details was revealed in the FBI's criminal complaint.

Tarrago also visited South Korea in August 2019. She attended the International Leaders Conference hosted by the Unification Church at Lotte Hotel World in Jamsil from August 15 to 17. On the 19th, she also visited Cheonjeong Palace of the Unification Church in Cheongpyeong, Gyeonggi-do where President Hak Ja Han resides, and posted photos on the Instagram.

Meanwhile, Colorado Party of Paraguay expelled Tarrago for the reason that she stained the morality of the party immediately upon prosecution of her. However, the Unification Church and the affiliated organizations have yet to comment on Tarrago's prosecution.

[WikiLeaks Korea = Yang Cheol-seung, Kim Ji-hyeong]

ycs@wikileaks-kr.org


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