Pablo Escobar's widow and son have been charged with money laundering in Argentina

  • Pablo Escobar's widow and son have been charged with money laundering in Argentina.
  • A former Colombian soccer player has also been charged in the case.
  • The trio has been linked to a Colombian drug trafficker who was part of Escobar's rival cartel.

An Argentine judge charged the widow and son of late Colombian drug trafficker Pablo Escobar with money laundering on Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing the judicial system's news service.

Federal judge Nestor Barral accused Escobar's ex-wife, Maria Isabel Santos Caballero, and his son, Juan Sebastian Marroquin Santos, who both live in Argentina, of laundering money obtained through drug trafficking. They remain free while the case proceeds, though some of their assets were frozen.

Mauricio "Chicho" Serna Valencia, a former Colombian soccer player who played for the Buenos Aires club Boca Juniors and appeared in two World Cups for the Colombian national team, was also charged. Serna splits his time between Argentina, where he lives with his 17-year-old son, and Colombia, where his wife and daughter live.

Serna is accused of being a local link for Piedrahita, who allegedly bought some of Serna's property in Argentina when the latter planned to move to that country with his family.

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FILE PHOTO AUG83 - Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and his wife Victoria Henao appear in this file photograph when Escobar was a member of the Colombian Congress in 1983. The late cocaine kingpin's wife and her son Juan Pablo Escobar were detained in Buenos Aires late Monday on charges of laundering drug money and falsifying documents. B/W ON LY (COLOMBIA OUT). CLP/ZDC
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - SEPTEMBER 6: An image taken 06 September 1989 from Colombian television of a wanted advertisement for Medellin drug cartel leaders Pablo Escobar and Gonzalo Rodriguez. (Photo credit should read CARLOS LEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA - OCTOBER 14: A resident of the Itague neighborhood in Medellin observes an army patrol 14 October 1992 as they conduct house-to-house searches in the homes near the Itague prison. Another of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar's associates surrendered 14 October. Luis Fernando Henao also known as 'The Missile' is the sixth of Escobar's elite to give himself up. (Photo credit should read CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images)
Colombia: This photo taken 10 Aug at the Enviagado Prison shows Colombian drug kingpin and head of the Medellin Cartel,Pablo Escobar,posing as Pancho Villa. The original photo hangs in one of the rooms in the prison where Escobar was incarcerated. Escobar and nine of his associates escaped from the prison 22 July after 13 months of detention. (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO TAPIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Undated file photo showing late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Escobar had been held at the Envigado Prison since June 19, 1991, escaped on July 22, 1992, and was killed by Colombian special forces after being discovered hiding in a house in Medellin, Colombia on December 2, 1993. (Photo credit should read STF/AFP/Getty Images)
Colombian police and military forces storm the rooftop where drug lord Pablo Escobar was shot dead just moments earlier during an exchange of gunfire between security forces and Escobar and his bodyguard 02 December 1993. The death of Escobar and the bodygaurd ends a 16-month hunt for Escobar, who controlled one of the world's most ruthless drug trafficking empires. (Photo credit should read JESUS ABAD-EL COLOMBIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA - DECEMBER 2: The body of Medellin drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar (C) lies on the roof of a house 02 December 1993 moments after Escobar was gunned down by Colombian police while trying to escape authorities. (Photo credit should read MEDELLIN POLICE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Escobar's widow and son and Serna are suspected of being intermediaries for Jose Piedrahita, laundering money through real estate in the upscale Buenos Aires neighborhood of Pilar and through a cafe known for Tango dancing.

The case has become known as "the gang of the Cafe de los Angelitos."

Piedrahita, a Colombian drug dealer who was linked to the Cali cartel — which was the main rival of Escobar's Medellin cartel in the 1980s and 1990s — was arrested in Colombia in September and faces extradition to the US. 

In a letter delivered to the judge in mid-May, the Escobar's widow and son reportedly said they knew Piedrahita as a cattle rancher and were unaware he was a drug trafficker. The pair has been investigated for money laundering before, but a federal tribunal in Buenos Aires closed the case in 2005.

Escobar, the head of the Medellin cartel and Colombia's best-known drug lord, died during a police operation in 1993 — though the exact details of his death are unclear. His family has been in Argentina since the 1990s.

(Reporting for Reuters by Walter Bianchi; writing by Luc Cohen; editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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