US Authorities Uncover Sinaloa Cartel’s $50M Money Laundering Operation with Chinese Underground Bankers


Federal investigators have revealed that members of the Sinaloa Cartel used a network of Chinese underground bankers to launder over $50 million in drug proceeds. The US Department of Justice unsealed a 10-count superseding indictment charging 24 individuals allegedly tied to the international conspiracy, which involved individuals in California, Mexico, and China.

The investigation began in 2023, and several individuals were initially charged. However, some defendants fled to Mexico, where they worked with Mexican and Chinese authorities to arrest several individuals who had escaped from Los Angeles.

According to the USDOJ, the lead defendant, 45-year-old Edgar Joel Martinez Reyes, a native of East L.A., oversaw a network of couriers who would collect drug cash and then launder it through Chinese money launderers to make funds available to Sinaloa Cartel members in Mexico. Court documents claim that Martinez used cryptocurrency and various financial schemes to move the funds, including depositing small amounts of money at a time.

Prosecutors assert that the money laundering operation operated from 2019 to 2023, with Martinez traveling to Mexico in 2021 to strike a deal with the Chinese underground bankers.

Ildefonso Ortiz
Ildefonso Ortiz
Award-winning journalist covering drugs cartels, public corruption & border issues.

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