STATEN ISLAND, NY – A Staten Island man played a key role in a ring that laundered over $ 28 million for drug trafficking organizations in the United States and Mexico, authorities claim.

Dielong Wu, 58, was among seven defendants, officials said.

He was the only defendant in the county.

Five defendants, including alleged ringleader Ying Sun, 65, are from California. The remaining suspect is from Queens.

Authorities said Sun led the group for about a year and a half from November 2019 to May 2021.

During that time, he received large sums of money that were laundered by drug dealers in the United States and Mexico, officials said.

From April 2020 to April 2021 alone, Sun arranged more than 130 cash pickups in 23 states, with drug trafficking revenues totaling over $ 20 million, authorities said.

Wu and the five other defendants took the money, then transported it and deposited it with private banks, officials said. In some cases, they transferred the money to different people or institutions, the authorities said.

According to an indictment, Wu made 11 cash withdrawals for over $ 1 million between April 28 and May 4 last year.

Sun arranged the pickups in and around Staten Island, the Bronx and Philadelphia, the indictment states.

On May 4, Wu Jie Lin, 58, handed a co-defendant a bag of cash in or around Mount Laurel, NJ, the indictment said.

After that, the authorities confiscated about US $ 300,000 from Lin and one other person when they tried to deposit the money with a retail bank, the indictment said.

During the investigation, authorities confiscated over $ 6.5 million from the group of defendants, officials said.

Authorities said they secured an additional $ 8 million in assets attributable to illicit revenue laundered from the ring.

Six of the defendants, including Wu, were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transfer business.

The charges are subject to maximum sentences of 20 years and five years behind bars.

Wu was arrested Wednesday and remains vacant on a $ 250,000 bond, online court records show. His community was not immediately available.

He was charged in federal court in Manhattan.

“Mr. Wu has made a plea not guilty and as such we intend to fight these allegations aggressively,” said Xavier Donaldson, the defendant’s attorney.

The arrests were announced by Ray Donovan, Special Envoy for the New York Department of the Federal Drug Administration, and Audrey Strauss, US attorney for the New York Southern District.

“One of the most powerful criminal elements in transnational drug trafficking organizations is money laundering,” Donovan said in a statement. “As with any business, the ultimate goal of drug trafficking is profit. These money laundering networks provide human traffickers with an invaluable service by transferring their ill-gotten gains around the world. “