Merren faces money laundering, drug charges

Caymanian businessman Bryce Merren is due to appear for his arraignment hearing in the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico at 9 a.m. Friday.  

At the arraignment, he will have to plead in relation to drug trafficking and money laundering charges. 

A Grand Jury returned an indictment with the charges on April 3. 

Mr. Merren is facing three counts of conspiracy and attempt to possess and distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, as well as money laundering to promote the activity. 

Mr. Merren, was arrested following the filing of a criminal complaint on March 5. The complaint alleges he met several times with two undercover federal agents, who posed as accomplices, to set up a drug smuggling operation in Puerto Rico. Mr. Merren further allegedly intended to use certain business interests in the Cayman Islands and the southern Caribbean island of Curacao to help launder the proceeds.  

A probable cause affidavit filed by U.S. Department of Homeland Security special Agent Harry Schmidt said he had received confidential information in July 2013 that Mr. Merren was “seeking to purchase approximately 3,000 kilograms of cocaine and establish a U.S. bank account in order to deposit drug proceeds and make an initial payment for the transportation of narcotics.” 

According to the court records, the defendant and the undercover agents allegedly agreed to initially smuggle 1,000 kilograms of cocaine and that a down payment of $200,000 to facilitate the venture was transferred in March from a bank account in the Cayman Islands to a U.S. bank account located in Puerto Rico.  

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