ON One Chinese citizen pleaded guilty and another was sentenced to seven years in prison for a global money laundering program that laundered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of drug trafficking organizations including Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel.
Xizhi Li pleaded guilty on Monday for playing a “leading role” in a “year-long conspiracy to use a foreign casino, foreign and domestic bogus companies, foreign and domestic bank accounts, fake passports and other fake identity documents for money laundering on behalf of transnational drugs” -trading organizations, their main activities included cocaine in drug trafficking, ”the DOJ said.
Li was born in China, but prosecutors said he lived primarily in Mexico and Guatemala when he carried out his plan, which included creating “close ties” with drug traffickers in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala and elsewhere, and using aliases like “Francisco Ley Tan” to get bank accounts in Miami and buy a casino in Guatemala to advance his plans with. Li pleaded guilty to the money laundering conspiracy and was sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $ 10 million sentence in October.
A factual statement signed by both the Justice Department and Li and his attorney last month stated that Li used bank accounts in the United States, China, Mexico, and elsewhere to launder drug profits. Li said he used encrypted platforms like WhatsApp and China’s WeChat to implement his plan.
The Washington auditor reported last month about how Chinese money launderers and fentanyl makers did business with Mexican cartels, banding together to make billions of dollars annually from the opioid that killed thousands of people in the United States
Hong Kong’s Tao Liu, who the DOJ said “helped run the cocaine money laundering program,” pleaded guilty to separate bribery charges in April and was sentenced to seven years in prison on Tuesday. The Justice Department said Liu had “accepted large drug money” on Li’s behalf. Liu was also “the target of a month-long undercover investigation attempting to bribe what he believed to be a corrupt US State Department official to obtain US passports for individuals, including Liu himself,” for US $ 150,000 each. The DOJ found that the allegedly corrupt officer was actually an undercover DEA agent.
The story goes on
“Global money laundering networks allow drug cartels to profit from their deadly trafficking, and yesterday’s guilty guilty plea and today’s verdict underscore the Department of Justice’s commitment to dismantling the financial infrastructure of transnational criminal organizations in order to profit from crime,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. of the DOJ’s Criminal Division said Tuesday.
Reportedly a seizure request from the DEA shows Investigators told the court that an investigation by a local drug gang led them to conclude that the Sinaloa cartel was supplying cocaine from the Memphis area, with Li running the money laundering program. Court records also reportedly show Investigators told a judge that part of Li’s money laundering was carried out on behalf of a Central American cartel led by Marisela “Iron Lady” Flores-Torruco, who was a cocaine dealer for El Chapo. Prosecutors allegedly said the court found that Li helped launder the profits from the Sinaloa cartel’s cocaine sales in Tennessee, and investigators also concluded that some of Li’s drug money laundering activities were carried out on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel.
Co-conspirators Jiayu Chen, Jingyuan Li, and Eric Yong Woo all have pleaded guilty also. Jianxing Chen, from Belize, has been relieved of money laundering and drug trafficking and is awaiting extradition after being arrested in Peru.
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Original author: Jerry Dunleavy