Feds Indict 24 in Mexico Cartel and China Drug Operation Alliance

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The Justice Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced on June 18 a 10-count superseding indictment, charging Los Angeles-based individuals linked to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel with conspiring with money-laundering groups linked to a Chinese underground banking network in order to launder drug trafficking proceeds.

Cartel members linked to Mexico used a Chinese underground banking system in order to launder money made from selling meth and cocaine. The Sinaloa Cartel is one of the largest-known crime syndicates in the world. It was run, famously, by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who is currently serving a lifetime sentence at a maximum security prison in Colorado. Investigators also say the Sinaloa cartel is responsible for a glut of fentanyl in the country for the past eight years.

Called “Operation Fortune Runner,” federal agents issued the indictment on April 4 and it was unsealed on Monday, charging a total of 24 defendants with one count of conspiracy to aid and abet the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine, one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.

Throughout the course of the conspiracy, over $50 million in drug proceeds flowed between the Sinaloa Cartel associates and Chinese underground money exchanges. Authorities in both Mexico and China alerted U.S. law enforcement that they had caught suspects attempting to flee the U.S. after being charged last year.

To transfer money to the United States, a China-based investor contacts an individual who has U.S. dollars available to sell. Then the seller of U.S. dollars provides identifying information for a bank account in China with instructions for the investor to deposit Chinese currency into that account. Once the owner of the account sees the deposit, an equivalent amount of U.S. dollars is released …

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Author: Benjamin M. Adams / High Times

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