Banks in Rhode Island Linked to Laundering Ring

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Federal authorities have cracked an international money-laundering ring that moved $500 million in cocaine cartel money through banks in Rhode Island, a federal prosecutor said.

Twelve of 13 people indicted in Rhode Island were arrested in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, and Geneva, Switzerland, including the alleged chief of the Rhode Island faction, Stephen A. Saccoccia.

The ring allegedly laundered money for the Cali cartel, a Colombian-based cocaine ring that rivals the more notorious Medellin cartel.

Some of the money allegedly went through Heritage Loan and Investment Co., a Providence bank that collapsed after its president, Joseph Mollicone, embezzled $13 million, according to the U.S. prosecutor's office.

Other banks said to have been used included Fleet/Norstar's flagship Fleet National Bank, Citizens Bank, First Bank and Trust, and Rhode Island Hospital Trust.

All but Heritage cooperated in the investigation after notifying federal authorities of the cocaine organization's approach.

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