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Latin America

Alleged frontman for Vice President of Venezuela purchased $16.5 million Miami mansion

Samark López and his wife enjoyed a lavish lifestyle in Miami, despite decrying the United States as an evil empire.
18 Feb 2017 – 11:32 AM EST
Miami mansion purchased for $16.5 million by company controlled by alleged Venezuelan "frontman" Samark Lopez Crédito: Univision Investiga

A businessman identified by the Trump administration as a frontman in a drug trafficking scheme with Venezuela's Vice President Tareck El Aissami, purchased a $16.5 million home in Miami last year - in cash.

The nine bedroom, Mediterranean-style mansion in the exclusive Gables Estates, was purchased by a company run by Venezuelan businessman, Samark López, according to property records examined by Univision Investiga.

Last week, the United States government identified López, as the "key frontman" for El Aissami in a drug trafficking and money laundering scheme.

López, 42, appeared to have sought to cloak his ownership of the mansion at 325 Leucadendra Drive using a corporation he controls, according to property records. However, the Miami corporation's address is identical to that of another luxury apartment seized from López, by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The Gables Estates mansion was not listed by OFAC when it announced the seizure of López's properties.

López has strongly denied OFAC's allegations. His wife did not return messages to her phone and email from Univision.

A source close to the purchase of the property told Univision that López submitted documents regarding the source of his funds before the sale was finalized. Sources also said the mansion was occupied until a few days ago by López's wife, Loisinette Leiva, and the couple's three children.

The Univision Investiga team identified the residence thanks to a jogging route that Leiva shared with her friends on Instagram that began and ended at the address in the exclusive Gables Estates neighborhood.

Some photos and videos posted on Leiva's social media websites provide an ironic insight into the lavish social life the couple enjoyed in Florida, despite their close ties to Venezuela's government which constantly eviscerates the United State as an "evil" imperialist empire that exploits poorer countries.

"Nobody leaves here without taking a tequila," Leiva can he heard shouting at her birthday celebration on the luxury yacht, Waku.

In two different photographs, López appears wearing Richard Mille wrist watches, one in gold valued at $665,000 and another black, worth $350,000.

In other images, several friends of the couple appear aboard an executive plane that according to sources belongs to López and was sometimes used to party in the Bahamas. Another video shows friends of the family serving Venezuelan tamales in a corridor of the mansion.

López was also a member of the swanky Trump Doral golf club in Miami where membership costs $50,000, the Miami Herald reported.

OFAC included a $9 million Gulfstream 2 jet in its list of assets seized from López.

The Gables Estates mansion has a movie theater, marble floors, elevator and a pier facing a lake. It was purchased on April 18, 2016 for $16.5 million, double the price it was sold for in March 2014.

López is a businessman with lucrative Venezuelan government contracts in the oil and food sectors.

Additonal reporting by Margarita Rabin, Daily Camacaro, Peniley Ramirez and Juan Cooper.

In pictures: Tareck El Aissami, the meteoric rise of a radical Chavista.

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