Countywide : $500,000 Bail Cut for Drug Suspect


A suspected Colombian drug money launderer pleaded not guilty to cocaine-trafficking charges Friday before a Ventura County Superior Court judge, who then reduced the man’s bail from a record-setting $500 million to $1 million.

Otoniel Urrego, 63, pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to sell cocaine and possessing money obtained from cocaine trafficking.

Judge Charles W. Campbell Jr. agreed to reduce Urrego’s bail to $1 million, despite a prosecutor’s plea for higher bail.


While Deputy Dist. Atty. James Grunert argued for a bail amount of $25 million to ensure that Urrego would not flee to Colombia, defense attorney Terrence Roden had asked for a $50,000 bail because Urrego did not have enough cash to post any higher amount, Grunert said.

Urrego had not raised the $100,000 required for his bail by late Friday. He is scheduled to go on trial June 29.

Urrego and his sister-in-law, Luz Urrego, 37, were arrested March 18 at their homes in Miami and North Hollywood, respectively. A sealed grand jury indictment handed up on June 12, 1991, charges the Urregos and two as-yet unidentified people with conspiracy to sell cocaine and possessing money obtained from cocaine trafficking, Grunert said.

The indictment arose from a Simi Valley police investigation that culminated in the seizure of $1 million from the family’s Sweetwood Street home and $1.5 million from a car that was being driven away from it.

Luz Urrego pleaded not guilty to the charges last week in Superior Court. She is being held in Ventura County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail, after a bail hearing at which Judge Campbell refused to reduce the amount.

Defense attorney Roden has said his client is a retired marine hardware importer who “had nothing to do” with the allegations in the indictment. Luz Urrego’s attorney also has denied the charges against her, saying that she has worked as a key punch operator in Los Angeles County for many years.