Thursday, October 29, 2020

Mexican drug baron ‘El Chapo’ used US seafood firm to launder cocaine, heroin profits

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A man has been convicted in a US court of a narcotics and money laundering conspiracy, where a US seafood company was used to distribute cocaine and heroin for the Mexican cartel run by the now incarcerated Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

On Sept. 3, Juan Alfaro, 52, of Hacienda, California, was sentenced to serve 120 months in prison by Lawrence Vilardo, a judge in the western district of New York, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Assistant US attorney Wei Xiang, who handled the trial, stated that the defendant was a member of a transnational drug trafficking organization that utilized contacts and a source of supply whose territory included Mexico, Arizona, California, and elsewhere. The source of supply was the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Guzman and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

Alfaro was convicted, along with co-defendant Martha Aguirre, following a jury trial in March 2019. Martha Aguirre’s brother Herman Aguirre was the leader of the organization.

Related: US demands Mexico cartel king El Chapo forfeit $12.7 billion in drug money
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Martha Aguirre and Alfaro used “front” companies to launder over $12 million in drug proceeds from Buffalo to Los Angeles, including Triton Foods. and Kamora Investment Enterprises, which were located in California. Another fictitious company, Corral Seafoods, registered in the State of New York, was allegedly located in Cheektowaga, but proved to be completely fake.

Using these companies, Alfaro and Martha Aguirre disguised kilogram quantities of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine on invoices and other documents as “sea cucumbers”, the DOJ said. The organization trafficked thousands of kilograms of illegal narcotics throughout the US, including Lockport, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers seized over $5m worth of illegal narcotics, including 52.5 kilograms of cocaine, 17.5 kilograms of heroin; and 8.5 kilograms of fentanyl. Alfaro is one of 17 defendants convicted in this case. Martha Aguirre is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 30, 2019.

In 2019, Guzman was found guilty of a number of criminal charges related to his leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, and is currently serving a life sentence in a US prison.

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