A Mexican national was sentenced in San Diego Monday to more than 11 years in federal prison for conspiring to launder $20 million worth of drug trafficking proceeds for the notorious Sinaloa Cartel.
Joel Acedo-Ojeda, 32, of Culiacan, the largest city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez to forfeit $20 million and pay a $20,000 fine.
“Those who launder drug monies to further the flow of narcotics that have a devastating impact on our communities and citizens should pay a stiff price,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.
“We will continue to aggressively pursue those individuals, wherever they may be located, who attempt to employ any means, financial or otherwise, in aid of efforts to move narcotics through our Southwestern border,” she said.
Acedo-Ojeda pleaded guilty in June 2015 to conspiracy to commit international money laundering.
According to admissions made in connection with his plea, Acedo-Ojeda and his co-conspirators coordinated the smuggling of $20 million in bulk U.S. currency — which he knew to be the proceeds of drug trafficking — from the United States to Mexico between April 2013 and April 2015.
Upon arrival in Mexico, the bulk currency was transferred to the drug smugglers who were supplying the narcotics either directly or by being smuggled back into the United States, placed into the financial system and then wired back into Mexico.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Casper told the judge that Acedo-Ojeda is believed to have laundered funds for Sinaloa Cartel drug traffickers. The Sinaloa Cartel is one of the most notorious drug trafficking organizations operating in Mexico and imports and distributes hundreds of tons of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States each year.
Casper also noted that the investigation resulted in the seizure by U.S. law enforcement of more than $5 million in U.S. currency as well as several hundred pounds each of cocaine and methamphetamine.
–City News Service
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