December 19, 2013
Contact: Wendell Campbell
Phone Number: (713) 693-3000
Real Estate Agent Headed To Prison For Money Laundering
McALLEN, Texas - Freddy Centeno, 52 of Brownsville, has been ordered to prison for money laundering for a convicted drug trafficker, announced Drug Enforcement (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier Peña and United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Centeno, a licensed real estate agent, pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information August 30, 2013.
Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez handed Centeno a sentence of 24 months in prison to be immediately followed by a two-year-term of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, Judge Alvarez noted Centeno was responsible for laundering more than $200,000 and further ordered the forfeiture of all real properties.
At the time of his plea, he admitted he helped a narcotics trafficker launder drug profits through the purchase of real properties in Brownsville. Centeno structured financial transactions of residential and commercial properties to conceal the identity and ownership of a narcotics trafficker.
The conviction and sentence comes as a result of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed Operation Spike Strip. The narcotics trafficking and money-laundering investigation targeted the Armando Arambul drug trafficking organization which operated under the auspices of the Gulf Cartel in Matamoros, Mexico, and throughout the Southern District of Texas.
Arambul and others were responsible for transporting multi-ton quantities of cocaine to Houston and other major U.S. cities and remitted millions of dollars to the Gulf Cartel. Arambul was convicted and was previously sentenced to 14 years in prison.
The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol, Cameron County District Attorney's Office-Narcotics Investigation Division and the U.S. Marshals Service. Assistant United States Attorneys Jesse Salazar is prosecuting the case.