Thirty-one defendants face federal money laundering charges for their roles in a conspiracy that allegedly laundered more than $100 million in drug proceeds for the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel by purchasing gold, reselling it to companies in Florida and California, then transmitting the money from the United States to Mexico. One additional defendant faces state money laundering charges in DuPage County. The federal charges, contained in a criminal complaint, stem from a multi-year investigation of money laundering and drug trafficking led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), together with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies…
The complaint alleges that Pineda-Sanchez, Parra-Pedroza, and 29 associates laundered more than $100 million in drug proceeds since 2011 for the Sinaloa Cartel. The defendants’ money laundering activities on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel spanned throughout the Unites States, including; Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, California, Texas, and North Carolina. Pineda-Sanchez and Parra-Pedroza are high ranking Mexico-based money brokers who allegedly used a network of individuals in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, and Los Angeles to launder illicit drug proceeds through a gold-based scheme. According to the complaint, Pineda-Sanchez, Parra-Pedroza, and others routinely directed United States based members of their organization to collect narcotics proceeds, to use the money to purchase scrap and fine gold from local businesses, and to ship that gold to refineries based in Florida and California. The refineries in turn transmitted the cash value of the gold to Parra-Pedroza and other co-conspirators in Mexico.
As part of the undercover law enforcement operation, HSI Chicago collected more than $4.5 million in drug proceeds from 38 different money couriers on 49 occasions between June 2013 and August 2014.
The complaint details several instances in which Parra-Pedroza warned a confidential informant, who was working with law enforcement, of the dangers of losing drug money entrusted to the organization. In one such instance, Parra-Pedroza told the informant about unidentified Mexican associates who had coerced a man to accept responsibility for losing their drugs or money by “cut[ting] his fingers off.”