A Culiacan, Mexico, man was sentenced Monday to 11 years and three months in prison for conspiring to launder $20 million worth of drug trafficking profits, according to officials.
U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez sentenced Joel Acedo-Ojeda, 32, and ordered him to forfeit $20 million and to pay a fine of $20,000, according to officials.
Acedo-Ojeda plead guilty to conspiracy to commit international money laundering on June 23, 2015.
According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, between approximately April 2013 and April 2015, Acedo-Ojeda and his co-conspirators coordinated the smuggling of $20 million in bulk U.S. currency, which he knew to be the proceeds of drug trafficking, from the United States to Mexico.
Upon arrival in Mexico, officials said the bulk currency was transferred to the drug smugglers who were supplying the narcotics either directly or by being smuggled back into the United States, placed into the financial system and then wired back into Mexico.
At sentencing, the government told the court that Acedo-Ojeda laundered funds for drug traffickers associated with the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most notorious drug trafficking organizations operating in Mexico that imports and distributes hundreds of tons of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States each year.
As a result of the investigation, law enforcement seized more than $5 million dollars in U.S. currency as well as several hundred pounds each of cocaine and methamphetamine.