Skip to main content
Press Release

Two Alleged Members of a Transnational Money Laundering Organization Arrested for Laundering Millions of Dollars in Drug Proceeds

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Two alleged members of a transnational money laundering organization were arrested on criminal charges related to their alleged involvement in a scheme to launder millions of dollars in illegal drug proceeds for Mexican drug trafficking organizations, including the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels (also known as CJNG).

Li Pei Tan, 46, of Buford, Georgia, was arrested today. Chaojie Chen, 41, a foreign national residing in Chicago, was arrested on April 18.

According to court documents, Tan and Chen allegedly worked for a money laundering organization that laundered millions of dollars in proceeds related to the importation of illegal drugs into the United States, primarily through Mexico, and the unlawful distribution of these drugs. Tan, Chen, and their co-conspirators allegedly traveled throughout the United States to collect proceeds derived from trafficking in fentanyl and other drugs (or to cause them to be collected). They allegedly communicated and coordinated with co-conspirators in China and other foreign countries to arrange for the laundering of these proceeds through financial transactions that were designed to conceal the illicit source of the drug proceeds.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Drug Threat Assessment, the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels are at the heart of the fentanyl crisis in the United States.

Tan and Chen are charged in separate criminal complaints with conspiring to commit money laundering. If convicted, they each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia; and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram made the announcement.

The DEA’s Special Operations Division, Bilateral Investigations Unit is investigating the case, with assistance from the DEA’s Office of Special Intelligence, Document and Media Exploitation Unit and the DEA’s offices in Chicago, Atlanta, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Trial Attorney Mary K. Daly of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edgardo J. Rodriguez for the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case, with assistance from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Northern District of Georgia and Northern District of Illinois.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated May 22, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-647