Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A man who laundered $3.5 million in drug proceeds for the Sinaloa drug cartel pleaded guilty Thursday in San Diego federal court.

Gibran Rodriguez-Mejia, 31, of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, admitted to working with couriers primarily based in Southern California who smuggled American currency into Mexico gained by selling cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin in the U.S., federal prosecutors said.

Rodriguez-Mejia is one of five defendants who entered guilty pleas in the case regarding the importation and laundering of drugs and money across the border.

Prosecutors say Rodriguez-Mejia admitted to arranging for the drug money to be smuggled to an exchange house in Tijuana owned and operated by co- defendant Cesar Hernandez-Martinez, 29, who also pleaded guilty in the case.

After the money was converted into pesos, Rodriguez-Mejia then provided Mexican bank accounts where the money could be deposited, prosecutors said.

Hernandez-Martinez admitted he owned and operated currency-exchange houses in Tijuana that received smuggled drug profits from about April 2013 until November 2015.

Both men face a maximum of 20 years in prison when they are sentenced July 8. Three other co-defendants already have been sentenced to prison terms of  between 10 to 12 years.

–City News Service

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