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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Sinaloa Cartel Drug Trafficker and Money Launderer Sentenced to Prison

A drug trafficker and money launderer for the Sinaloa Cartel was sentenced yesterday to 188 months in prison for supervising the smuggling of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin from Mexico into the United States and the smuggling of drug proceeds from the United States to Mexico.  

Roberto Gallegos-Lechuga, 39, of Sinaloa, Mexico, was extradited from Mexico to the United States in March 2020. In July 2021, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit international money laundering. According to court documents, Gallegos-Lechuga coordinated the smuggling of large quantities of illegal narcotics through ports of entry in Southern California. Gallegos-Lechuga also supervised and managed couriers who smuggled hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash at a time, from the illegal sale of drugs, from the United States to Mexico as part of the cartel’s ongoing efforts to promote drug trafficking.

“This defendant was part of a violent transnational criminal organization that posed a danger to our communities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “We will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who export dangerous narcotics to the United States and finance those activities through money laundering. I want to thank the Government of Mexico for extraditing Gallegos-Lechuga to the United States. Through such partnerships, we will continue to work to dismantle dangerous drug cartels.”

“Those who manage drug trafficking and money laundering efforts for the Sinaloa cartel, one of the most violent criminal organization in the world, will continue to face justice in this district,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman for the Southern District of California. “Stopping the flow of funds to drug cartels and of deadly drugs into the United States continues to be a priority for us and our law enforcement partners.”

“This sentencing is the culmination of years of relentless work by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and its partners targeting the Sinaloa Cartel,” said Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz of HSI San Diego. “This investigation highlights HSI’s dedication to go after both cartel drug trafficking and money laundering activity. The sentencing sends a resounding message to Transnational Criminal Organizations that HSI and our partners are unyielding in our pursuit of justice.”

Seven other defendants have previously pleaded guilty in the case and been sentenced: Omar Ayon-Diaz, Osvaldo Contreras-Arriaga, Cesar Hernandez-Martinez, Gibran Rodriguez-Mejia, Oscar Rodriguez-Guevara, Bianca Acedo Ojeda, and Joel Acedo Ojeda. In addition, approximately 20 other individuals linked to the scheme who served as drug and money couriers and drug stash house operators have entered guilty pleas and been sentenced in related cases.       

The investigation was conducted by HSI. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with law enforcement partners in Mexico to secure the arrest of Gallegos-Lechuga in Mexico and his extradition to the United States.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Counsel Mark Irish of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Casper of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.

Updated January 11, 2022