Heads Of Nationwide Drug Trafficking And Money Laundering Organization Sentenced To Federal Prison
Tampa, Florida - U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich today sentenced Maria Lourdes Aguilar (29, Madera, California) to 27 years in federal prison and Victor Yanez-Gutierrez (35, Madera, California) to 21 years, 10 months in federal prison for their leadership roles in a California-based drug trafficking and money laundering organization. The court also entered a $21,000,000 forfeiture money judgment against Aguilar and Yanez-Gutierrez and ordered them to forfeit five real properties, currency, and four vehicles, including a 2007 Bentley and 2008 Mercedes SUV, which are traceable to proceeds of the offenses. Aguilar and Yanez-Gutierrez were found guilty on February 8, 2012.
According to court documents, Aguilar and Yanez-Gutierrez were leaders and organizers of a nationwide drug trafficking and money laundering organization (the "Yanez-Gutierrez DTO") based in California. The Yanez-Gutierrez DTO shipped cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana from California to locations throughout the United States, including the Middle District of Florida. The drugs were shipped via Federal Express, United Parcel Service, and the United States Postal Service. They were also concealed and shipped via automobiles that were placed on car-haulers.
Co-conspirators would retrieve packages of cocaine, distribute the narcotics to lower-level drug distributors in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere, who in turn would later send drug proceeds back to Aguilar and Yanez-Gutierrez, in California, via money couriers, wire transfers, and bank deposits. Specifically, to facilitate their illegal activities, co-conspirators would use narcotics proceeds that were deposited into various bank accounts by Aguilar and other Yanez-Gutierrez DTO members to purchase items such as airline tickets, rental cars, and hotel rooms for DTO members.
“This case sends a clear message to drug trafficking organizations,” said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Tampa. “You cannot conduct your illegal activities here. We will investigate your organization until we reach the top echelon of leadership, as we did in this case, and those individuals will receive hefty prison sentences for the crimes they committed.”
“The DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to dismantle all those who participate in drug trafficking organizations that are responsible for plaguing our communities with these dangerous drugs,” said Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration, and other federal, state, and local agencies as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher F. Murray and Josephine W. Thomas.