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August 22, 2012

Two Mexican Nationals Sentenced to a Combined 14 Years in Federal Prison for Roles in Money Laundering Conspiracy

AUG 22 (PHOENIX)-- On August 20, 2012, Oscar Rafael Zamudio-Duran, 34, of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, and Jose Fernando Zamudio-Cervantes, 36, of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake for their roles in a Phoenix area money laundering conspiracy. Zamudio-Duran was sentenced to 108 months in prison and Zamudio-Cervantes was sentenced to 60 months in prison. Both men had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

“For drug traffickers, it’s all about the money,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. “To decimate the drug trade, we are following drug money back to its source, targeting the laundering networks, and eliminating the profits that fuel drug trafficking organizations. DEA and our law enforcement partners are working shoulder to shoulder to take apart drug cartels by bankrupting them and putting them behind bars.”

“Drug trafficking organizations cannot function without the proceeds that flow from their criminal enterprises,” said U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement not only to combat drug trafficking, but also to confiscate the proceeds that allow drug trafficking organizations to continue their operations.”

“Cooperation between local and federal agencies is crucial in dismantling sophisticated drug trafficking organizations.  IRS-CI contributes the financial investigators and expertise that is critical in proving money laundering charges,” said Dawn Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Office of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

According to the plea agreements, both men lived and worked at a stash house in Phoenix that was used by a controlled substances smuggling organization. Ledgers that tracked the amount of money taken in and shipped out were kept at the stash house. At one point, a cooler that contained over $219,000 in U.S. currency, which represented proceeds of controlled substances trafficking, was buried in the backyard of the stash house. An additional $9,931 in U.S. currency was located inside the house. All of the currency was intended to be used by the drug trafficking organization to promote the continued carrying on of the distribution and sale of controlled substances.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Karen S. McDonald, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.