SAN DIEGO — Authorities charged 40 people in San Diego on Thursday with conspiring to launder tens of millions of dollars in drug money from cities across the United States to cartels in Mexico.
Law enforcement seized more than $6 million in cash, as well as 209 pounds of methamphetamine, 138 pounds of heroin, 22 pounds of fentanyl, 202 pounds of cocaine and 554 pounds of marijuana worth millions of dollars on the streets, along with 20 firearms, including semiautomatic rifles and handguns.
In addition to the indictments unsealed today in San Diego, a total of 75 defendants nationwide have been charged across the United States with crimes ranging from #drug distribution to #money-laundering, all stemming from this investigation. #FBI pic.twitter.com/HpVYRjxxgH
— FBI San Diego (@FBISanDiego) March 8, 2018
Another 35 people were charged in other parts of the country, said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman.
According to the indictments, Jose Roberto Lopez-Albarran, identified in court documents as a significant money broker for a Mexican-based international money laundering organization, along with other members of that group, laundered tens of millions of dollars in drug proceeds from the United States to Mexico between 2015 and this year.
The FBI deployed undercover agents and task force officers from various law enforcement to infiltrate Lopez-Albarran’s organization and after gaining trust , agreed to pick up bulk currency across the United States for transfer to Mexico, prosecutors said.
“We have siphoned the cash and the life out of a San Diego-based international money laundering organization with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel,” Braverman said. “By following the money, we have discovered large quantities of fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine that are no longer destined for the streets of America. That’s a one-two punch that takes these organizations completely out of the ring and makes our communities safer.”
The defendants face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to launder money, Braverman said. Twenty-one of the 40 people charged in San Diego are in custody, he said.