A Culiacan, Mexico, man was sentenced today to 135 months in prison for conspiring to launder $20 million worth of drug trafficking proceeds.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of the Southern District of California and Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Carney of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) made the announcement.
Joel Acedo-Ojeda, 32, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez of the Southern District of California, who also ordered Acedo-Ojeda to forfeit $20 million and to pay a fine of $20,000. Acedo-Ojeda pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit international money laundering on June 23, 2015.
According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, between approximately April 2013 and April 2015, 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. 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.
At sentencing, the government told the court that Acedo-Ojeda laundered funds for drug traffickers associated with the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most notorious drug trafficking organizations operating in Mexico that imports and distributes hundreds of tons of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States each year. As a result of the investigation, law enforcement seized more than $5 million dollars in U.S. currency as well as several hundred pounds each of cocaine and methamphetamine.
HSI investigated the case. Senior Trial Counsel Mark Irish of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Casper of the Southern District of California prosecuted the case.