S.A.'s 'DWI Dude' denies scamming Colombian narco-terror group chief

Updated 9:49 am, Friday, March 17, 2017

Hermes Alirió Casanova Ordoñez is a Colombian FARC leader represented by San Antonio lawyer Jamie Balagia,
who is known as the "DWI Dude" and "420 Dude."

The San Antonio lawyer known as the "DWI Dude" and "420 Dude" has pleaded not guilty to charges that he was involved in scamming more than $1 million from a member of Colombia's narco-terrorist group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Jamie Balagia, a San Antonio lawyer known as the "DWI Dude" and "420 Dude," has been charged by the FBI with conspiracy to commit money laundering and
obstruction of justice in an alleged plot that scammed about $1.2 million from Colombian clients.

Jamie Balagia, 56, entered the plea to conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstruction of justice charges during a hearing Thursday in the North Texas town of Sherman, proceedings that continue today to determine whether he can be released from jail on bond, records show.

A review of other court records shows Balagia was the lawyer for Hermes Alirio Casanova Ordóñez, also known as "Megatron" or "Megatrónico," one of 16 defendants in a case filed in the same Eastern District of Texas.

Sources said Balagia, an investigator named Charles N. Morgan, and a third defendant from South America allegedly conspired to launder $1.2 million provided by the Colombians, who were told that the money would be used to bribe judges and prosecutors.

The sources said the trio tried to get $2 million, and that no one was bribed. Instead, the trio allegedly split $1.2 million, and Balagia reportedly got $600,000, the sources said.

U.S. officials have said Casanova served as the link between the Western Bloc of the FARC, the Clan Úsuga narco-trafficking gang of that South American country, and two Mexican cartels, Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel.

U.S. federal law enforcement authorities accused him of trafficking more than 100 tons of Colombian cocaine into the United States, and extradited him from Colombia to Texas to face the charges in recent years.

Court records show Balagia negotiated a plea deal for Casanova in which he admitted to sending 450 kilograms of cocaine to the United States. Casanova also admitted being a narco leader. He is awaiting sentencing.