Crime

Miami Social Media "Influencer" Arrested in Colombia on Money-Laundering Charges

Miami influencer Jenny Ambuila has been charged in an alleged bribery and money-laundering scheme.
Miami influencer Jenny Ambuila has been charged in an alleged bribery and money-laundering scheme. Office of the Attorney General of Colombia
Jenny Ambuila, a Miami-based social media influencer, probably didn't win a ton of friends by blatantly posting images of her white Porsche Cayenne and bright-red Lamborghini Huracán on Instagram. But she did attract the attention of some very important people: Colombian federal police.

Late last week, the Colombian government announced charges against Ambuila and her father, Omar Ambuila, involving a massive bribery and money-laundering scheme. Per Colombian authorities, the elder Ambuila had been a midlevel customs agent with the country's National Directorate of Taxes and Customs — the Dirección de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales (DIAN). According to investigators, Omar Ambuila accepted $600,000 in bribes while working at a seaport in the Colombian city of Buenaventura. 

Prosecutors say he then illegally funneled that money to his daughter to support her lavish Miami lifestyle.

According to the Colombian government, Jenny Ambuila used her father's dirty cash to buy all kinds of luxury goods in Miami. Investigators say she even paid for her University of Miami education with the illegal funds. Her Instagram page shows she was, at least briefly, flush with cash: She photographed herself draped in shopping bags, sparkling with jewelry, and swaddled in new designer fashions. She posed for photos in Paris and on European beaches. She even claimed online she'd bought a VIP pass to Coachella, the music festival in California.
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Que procede?

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Only vip

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Apparently, the Lamborghini shots were the last straw for Colombian prosecutors. According to the Associated Press, the Colombian government began investigating her after she first posted images of the car online. They apparently uncovered a gold mine of illegal customs bribes — and on March 29, Colombian police posted videos of Ambuila's arrest. She was wearing a Gucci T-shirt when she was nabbed: Sadly, her so-called influencer lifestyle wasn't even that successful. Despite being allegedly propped up by foreign bribery money, Ambuila has only about 6,000 followers on Instagram.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of Jenny and Omar Ambuila. New Times regrets the error.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.