Eight defendants from Southern California and the Mexican state of Sinaloa are accused in an indictment filed Tuesday with conspiring to distribute multiple controlled substances throughout the United States and laundering millions of dollars in cash proceeds from those drug sales.
Five of those defendants — Javier Felix-Bayardo, Rigoberto Munoz- Banuelos, Manuel Felix-Gutierrez, Hector Sandoval-Toloza and Camilo Ayon- Mondragon — are charged with conspiracy to distribute large quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Felix-Bayardo and Munoz-Banuelos, along with Gabriela Nunez, Mario Noriega-Osuna, and Margarito Rodriguez-Ochoa, are charged with conspiring to launder more than $5 million in proceeds through the operation of dozens of bank accounts. Nunez was also charged with using $20,000 in drug proceeds for a down payment on a 2015 Dodge Durango.
Munoz-Banuelos was also charged with bulk cash smuggling in connection with his alleged attempt to transport $101,083 in cash to Mexico in a 2011 Ford F-150 truck.
An affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint alleges Felix- Bayardo was the leader of the criminal network, whose members would distribute multiple drugs throughout the United States and then receive cash deposits into bank accounts opened in their own names and under aliases.
The affidavit lists more than 20 fraudulent accounts opened at Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank with falsified Mexican identification documents.
Agents from the Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations discovered that some of the same false identification documents had been used to rent two storage units in National City.
On Aug. 9, agents executed a search warrant at those storage units and seized about 26 1/2 kilograms of cocaine, 938 grams of methamphetamine and 486 kilograms of marijuana, along with five firearms, including an AR-15 style rifle modified to function as a machine gun capable of fully automatic fire, court papers show.
As drugs like those were circulated throughout the United States, thousands of dollars flowed from Felix-Bayardo’s bank accounts into the account of his wife, Nunez, who used the money to cover the couple’s lifestyle expenses, including a $1,260 monthly lease payment on a 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 and a $1,002 monthly loan payment on the 2015 Dodge Durango, court papers allege.
–City News Service
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