A two-year undercover investigation by the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) into an international Ecstasy
and weapons trafficking organization with Hollywood connections has resulted in the arrests of seven persons, including executives at Limelight Films Inc.
DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said the probe, known as Operation Director's Cut, resulted in the arrest this week of Limelight Chief Executive Officer Bruno D'Esclavelles, Chief Financial Officer David Liberman and three associates.
Also arrested, Mr. Payne said, was Alexandre De Basseville of Switzerland, an executive board member of ADB Swiss S.A., a Swiss-based financial, business and consulting service that owns the L.A.-based Limelight Films Inc. Various media outlets have reported that Mr. De Basseville is engaged to Kiera Chaplin, granddaughter of the legendary film actor Charlie Chaplin.
The Limelight Films Inc. Web site said Miss Chaplin serves as an executive.
Mr. De Basseville and Mr. D'Esclavelles were arrested in Arlington, Va., and charged with conspiracy to distribute MDMA
(Ecstasy). Mr. Liberman was charged with conspiring to launder money.
"This operation demonstrates once again the poisoning influence of drug money and the greed that causes some people to hurt the lives of the many," DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy said.
A criminal complaint in the case said Mr. De Basseville met repeatedly over the past two years with undercover agents posing as international drug traffickers. It said he offered to launder drug proceeds, supply weapons and broker Ecstasy deals for the undercover agents.
The complaint said the agents met with Mr. De Basseville and several of his associates, including the other six persons charged, in various locations, including Arlington, Miami, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Geneva. On two occasions, it said, Mr. De Basseville and Mr. D'Esclavelles took cash, totaling $300,000, which they thought to be drug proceeds, and laundered it for the undercover agents using Limelight Films.
In February, the complaint said, Mr. De Basseville and Mr. D'Esclavelles arranged for the sale of Ecstasy from the Netherlands from Thomas Frischknecht to an undercover agent. Mr. Frischknecht sent the agent a package containing 10,000 pills, which the agent received in Arlington, it said.
The complaint said Mr. De Basseville, Mr. D'Esclavelles and Mr. Frischknecht agreed to sell the agent 500,000 pills in the Netherlands. Mr. Frischknecht, 26, of Switzerland, was arrested in the Netherlands as the undercover agent negotiated for the delivery of the pills.
Mr. Payne said authorities also arrested Fabian Pruvot, 37, Andre Prikazhikov, 31, and Brian Delansky, 33, all of Los Angeles. Mr. Pruvot and Mr. Liberman were charged with conspiracy to launder money, he said, and Mr. Prikazhikov and Mr. Delansky were charged with conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.