San Diego, California - A money launderer for the Sinaloa Cartel was sentenced Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for laundering approximately $15 million from the sale of methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin that were smuggled into the United States by the Sinaloa Cartel.
Bianca Acedo-Ojeda, 34, of Sinaloa, Mexico, was extradited from Mexico to San Diego in November 2019, and on March 10, 2021, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, Acedo-Ojeda agreed with others to arrange, and did arrange, for the drug proceeds in the form of U.S. bulk currency to be smuggled into Mexico through ports of entry in Southern California in vehicles with hidden compartments. She also agreed with others to and did arrange for much of the U.S. bulk currency to be converted into Mexican pesos and transferred to drug traffickers.
“Money launderers are the lifeblood of criminal organizations,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “We will continue to vigorously prosecute money launderers associated with violent transnational drug trafficking organizations such as the Sinaloa Cartel. I want to thank the Government of Mexico for extraditing Acedo-Ojeda to the United States to face criminal charges. Through such partnerships, we will attack and work to dismantle dangerous drug cartels and their money laundering facilitators.”
“Those who launder funds in support the Sinaloa Cartel’s efforts to flood our borders with deadly drugs will face justice in this district,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman for the Southern District of California. “Stopping the flow of funds to one of the most violent criminal organizations in the world is essential to disrupting their narcotics trafficking and other criminal efforts.”
“This investigation and prosecution serve as a prime example of how Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and federal prosecutors work together to bring down those involved in large scale money laundering in support of international drug trafficking organizations,” said Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz for HSI San Diego. “HSI will continue to identify and investigate criminal organizations who seek to exploit our borders in furtherance of their illicit activity – if you engage in illegal finance activity to aid drug cartels, you will be caught and prosecuted.”
Six other defendants, including Acedo-Ojeda’s brother, have previously pleaded guilty in this case and been sentenced (Omar Ayon-Diaz; Osvaldo Contreras-Arriaga; Joel Acedo-Ojeda; Cesar Hernandez-Martinez, Gibran Rodriguez-Mejia, and Oscar Rodriguez-Guevara). Another defendant, Robert Gallegos-Lechuga, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and is pending sentencing. In addition, approximately 20 other individuals linked to the conspiracy who served as drug and money couriers and drug stash house operators have entered guilty pleas and been sentenced in related cases.
The investigation was conducted by HSI. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with law enforcement partners in Mexico to secure the arrest and extradition of Acedo-Ojeda in Mexico.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Counsel Mark Irish of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Casper of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.