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24 people charged in money laundering scheme involving Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, prosecutors say

Summary of Development

A five-year investigation by U.S. officials has uncovered a complex partnership between one of Mexico’s most notorious drug cartels and Chinese underground banking groups in the U.S. that laundered money from the sale of fentanyl, cocaine and other drugs, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. 

Associates of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel conspired with the Chinese groups to cover up more than $50 million in drug profits, much of which was processed in the Los Angeles area, the prosecutors said in a news release. 

Two dozen people have been charged. Chinese and Mexican law enforcement helped arrest fugitives who fled the United States after they were initially charged last year. 

“This investigation shows that the Sinaloa Cartel has entered into a new criminal partnership with Chinese nationals who launder money for the cartels,” Drug Enforcement Administration official Anne Milgram said at a news conference. 
The lead defendant is Edgar Joel Martinez-Reyes, 45, of East Los Angeles, who prosecutors said had managed couriers who picked up drug cash in the Los Angeles area. Martinez-Reyes partnered with the leader of the Chinese money launderers and traveled with him to Mexico to negotiate contracts with the cartel, authorities said.