Sinaloa’s Top Money Launderer Sentenced in the U.S.
A federal court in California sentenced a Mexican lawyer who served as the Sinaloa cartel’s chief money launder to 15 years in prison, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a statement.
Juan Manuel Alvarez-Inzunza worked for years to clean the illicit funds of Sinaloa’s leaders like Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman.
"According to court records, starting in 2013, agents with Homeland Security Investigations intercepted the communications of Alvarez-Inzunza and other high-level Sinaloa Cartel members as they discussed the transfer of drug proceeds,” the DOJ said.
“Alvarez-Inzunza, who had a law degree and worked as an attorney in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, regularly received requests originating from the top leadership of the cartel—including Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman—to arrange for the collection of drug proceeds in cities across the United States including New York, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit,” it explained. “Alvarez-Inzunza then worked with associates in Bogota, Colombia to arrange for the transfer of those funds to Mexico, Central America, and other locations.”
Through the wiretaps, U.S. authorities were able to intercept US$4 million of the cartel’s illicit funds before they left the country. Alvarez-Inzunza was ultimately arrested by Mexican authorities in 2016 and extradited to the United States.
“Large-scale drug cartels in Mexico can only survive by manipulating the international financial system to transfer the proceeds of their drug sales out of the United States,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. “Today’s sentence sends a message to global money launderers that they are not safe, wherever they may reside, and we will continue to work with our international partiers to bring them to justice.”
Perhaps the most prominent criminal and drug trafficking organizations in the world, Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel has a reputation for violence and is the main transmitter of South American drugs and narcotics – from Colombian cocaine to Mexican marijuana – to the United States.