International Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison
Transported Thousands of Kilograms of Cocaine to United States
CHICAGO — Robert J. Bell, Special Agent in Charge of Drug Enforcement Administration-Chicago Division, and U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr., of the Northern District of Illinois, announced that an international drug trafficker who partnered with Mexican drug cartels to purchase and transport thousands of kilograms of cocaine to Chicago and other parts of the United States has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.
Luis Eduardo Gonzalez Garcia established a sophisticated network of warehouses and front companies posing as legitimate businesses to distribute the cocaine and launder millions of dollars in proceeds. The warehouses were located in Chicago and the nearby suburbs of Naperville, Arlington Heights, and Plainfield, as well as in Texas and Georgia. At Gonzalez Garcia’s direction, the warehouse operators set up front companies and registered them with local governments as if they were legitimate businesses. The companies, which claimed to sell furniture, snack food, laundry detergent, or other items, often operated their own websites and hired employees to conceal the distribution of cocaine through the warehouses. The drugs and cash were primarily concealed in box pallets containing the types of goods the front companies purported to sell and then transported from Mexico on semi-trailer trucks driven by unwitting drivers. A “dirty” pallet in a typical shipment could contain up to 100 kilograms of cocaine or up to $1.5 million in cash.
From 2012 to 2017, Gonzalez Garcia was responsible for the distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine throughout the U.S. and the laundering of more than $50 million in narcotics proceeds.
Gonzalez Garcia, 55, of Monterey, Mexico, pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal drug conspiracy and money laundering charges. In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman on Nov. 16, 2022, fined Gonzalez Garcia $1.5 million.
This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug trafficking organizations and other criminal networks that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
“By successfully laundering tens of millions of drug proceeds back down to himself and his cartel partners in Mexico, defendant not only undoubtedly enriched himself but also enriched the Mexican drug cartels – some of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the world,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean J.B. Franzblau argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “Anyone who is considering partnering with the cartels to move their products from Mexico to the streets of this country must know that they will face the severest of consequences.”