British and American drug-busting authorities claim to have smashed one of the most bizarre money-laundering services ever operated for Colombian cocaine cartels: a circle of ultra-religious Hassidic Jews in New York.
The ring is said to be one of the biggest to be 'cleaning' profits amassed by the Colombian coke barons, with the strange twist that it is run by a group from the Jewish community that acts as moral and spiritual guardian of the Orthodox faith.
This is not the first time the Hassidim have been exposed as involved in the big-time drug trade. Last year, the trial ended of a circle run by Sean Erez, a Hassidic who oversaw a massive ecstasy smuggling operation, drawing recruits from the young Orthodox community.
In that case, the drug was smuggled in boxes worn either under traditional Hassidic hats or next to the heart, intended to contain prayer scrolls, or else packed into white athletic socks.