One Way Guatemalan OFAC Kingpin Overdick-Mejia Could Get Off SDN List

Yesterday, the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) designated a Guatemalan spice buyer, Horst Walter Overdick-Mejia, a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficking Kingpin (SDNTK), calling him a “critical link” between Colombian producers and a Mexican cartel.

Mr. Overdick-Mejia was indicted on trafficking and gun charges on January 19, 2012 and according to reports has already been placed into extradition proceedings. Mr. Overdick-Mejia’s SDNTK designation blocks all of his assets under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with him.

OFAC alleges that Mr. Overdick-Mejia was responsible for the trafficking of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into Mexico, and is accused of being the driving force behind the entrance of Los Zetas into Guatemala.

It is not uncommon for those foreign individuals indicted in large drug trafficking cases to find their way onto the OFAC SDN List. However, when reviewing reconsiderations of those designations, there have been more than a few instances in which those individuals who plead guilty and cooperate with the government have had their designations rescinded. These scenarios usually play out in large scale drug trafficking designation reconsiderations stemming from SDNT (“Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker”) and Tier II SDNTK designations such as Mr. Overdick-Mejia’s.

If Mr. Overdick-Mejia was so inclined to attempt to work out such a deal with the government, there is one major obstacle standing in Mr. Overdick-Mejia’s way. Any U.S. counsel that will represent him either in the extradition matter, the criminal prosecution, or the OFAC SDN reconsideration will need to obtain a specific license authorization before collecting any legal fees or reimbursement for expenses. The licenses are obtainable, however, these types of licenses generally take 6-8 weeks for OFAC to issue. As such, until such time as the license is applied for and issued, Mr. Overdick-Mejia may have a hard time finding U.S. counsel willing to take on the case.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in OFAC matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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