July 20, 2024

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A 45-year-old Los Angeles man was charged in a $50 million scheme to launder Mexican cartel money

2 min read

The white gift bag with a cheery “Happy Birthday” printed on the side didn’t have a present in it. It had $226,000 in cash that the Sinaloa drug cartel needed laundered, authorities allege.

The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday announced a multi-count indictment that charged more than a dozen Los Angeles members of the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel and Chinese currency brokers with conspiring to launder drug money for years. The lead defendant, Edgar Joel Martinez-Reyes, 45, is a resident of East Los Angeles. The investigation so far has yielded $5 million in cash, more than 300 pounds of cocaine, 92 pounds of methamphetamine, 3,000 pills of Ecstasy, and 44 pounds of magic mushrooms. According to the indictment, the list of defendants includes Peiji “Dr. P” Tong, Sai “Tommy” Zhang, Chengwu “Ocean” He, Raul “Batman” Contreras, Jiaxuan “Edward” He, Diego Acosta Ovalle, and others.

The first 20 defendants will be arraigned in the next few weeks and if convicted on all charges, each faces a minimum of 10 years in prison or a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“Relentless greed, the pursuit of money, is what drives the Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for the worst drug crisis in American history,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram in a statement. “This DEA investigation uncovered a partnership between Sinaloa Cartel associates and a Chinese criminal syndicate operating in Los Angeles and China to launder drug money.”

The DOJ said the cartel, based in the Sinaloa state of Mexico, has been behind the surging infusion of fentanyl in the U.S. in the past eight years, which drums up hordes of cash. In order to get the money to Mexico, cartel members turned to Chinese money exchanges in the U.S., authorities said.  To set it up, Martinez-Reyes and “Dr. P” Tong allegedly went to Mexico roughly four years ago to sign contracts to launder the cartel’s drug profits in exchange for a commission fee.

After the…

Amanda Gerut

2024-06-18 22:12:45

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