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Six Charged in Global Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Conspiracies

SEP 23 (LOS ANGELES) – John S. Comer, Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today an indictment charging Alejandro Javier Rodriguez-Jimenez, Jesus Rodriguez-Jimenez, Eloy Cardenas-Moreno, Sergio Urbina, Leobardo Tamez, and Marco Coronado with conspiring to commit money laundering.  Alejandro Javier Rodiguez-Jimenez, Jesus Rodriguez-Jimenez, Cardenas-Moreno, and Coronado were also charged with conspiring to distribute narcotics.
           
Since July 2013, the DEA has been investigating an international drug trafficking and money laundering organization (the “Organization”) involved in trafficking hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and heroin and laundering narcotics proceeds through a variety of methods including through one or more seemingly “legitimate” corporations under their control.   The Organization has ties to Panama, Mexico, Italy, Spain, and the United States, among other locations, and its members are believed to include each of the defendants.

This case is connected to the investigation into Roberto Ponce-Rocha, a large-scale international narcotics trafficker based in Central and South America, who used various methods, including commercial shipments, drivers, and couriers to move narcotics around the world, and to import narcotics into the United States.  Ponce-Rocha is among four individuals charged in a superseding indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York on May 25, 2016.

“The complexity and scale of operations consummated by this money laundering organization are immense – hundreds of millions of drug dollars remitted across six continents on behalf of the World’s most violent drug cartels,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge John S. Comer.  “The investigation led by our office in Las Vegas reflects DEA’s resolve and reach; working with our international, state and local partners, we will cripple these global organizations no matter where they’re based.”

Alejandro Javier Rodriguez-Jimenez ran a number of businesses in Las Vegas, Nevada, including a LED screens business that he used as a front to facilitate money laundering transactions and to ship narcotics in connection with Ponce-Rocha.  Together with his brother, Jesus Rodriguez-Jimenez, who was based in Monterrey, Mexico, Alejandro Javier Rodriguez-Jimenez directed their associates, including Eloy Cardenas-Moreno, to set up stash houses in various cities throughout the United States, including Atlanta and Philadelphia, in order to receive drug proceeds from criminal clients who wanted those proceeds funneled into the international banking system.  Marco Coronado, Sergio Urbina, and Leobardo Tamez each participated in cash money pick-ups in, among other places, New York City and Atlanta, receiving cash from narcotics traffickers and, as directed by the Rodriguez-Jimenez brothers, bringing that cash to co-conspirators with directions to wire it to shell accounts in Mexico, Hong Kong, Italy and other places. 

The Organization laundered hundreds of millions of dollars through the international banking system in this fashion, and facilitated the distribution of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and heroin.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, these defendants established a shadow banking system, with stash houses in numerous American cities where co-conspirators received drug proceeds and laundered them through accounts in North and Central America, Europe, and Asia, and in the process, facilitated the distribution of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and heroin.  Money laundering conspiracies, like the one uncovered here, make it possible for the drug cartels to repatriate millions in drug proceeds from the United States.  This Office, along with all of our federal partners, will do everything in its power to stanch the flow of illegal drugs into the United States by shutting down these corrupt financial networks.”

A number of state and local law enforcement agencies participated in the investigation as well as IRS Criminal Investigation.  Additionally, Mexican law enforcement agencies La Comisión Nacional de Seguridad – Policía Federal and La Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera assisted with the investigation.

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