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Press Release

Pico Rivera Man Who Helped International Drug Traffickers Launder More Than $15 Million Sentenced to 4 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A Pico Rivera man was sentenced today to 48 months in federal prison for his role in a money laundering conspiracy that moved millions of dollars in narcotics-related funds from the United States to international drug trafficking organizations.

Gustavo Adolfo Aldana-Martinez, 57, was sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who also ordered him to pay a $25,000 fine.

At the conclusion of a three-day trial in December 2021, a jury found Aldana-Martinez guilty of one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

Aldana-Martinez accepted wire transfers of trafficker-directed drug proceeds sent from an undercover account run by agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). After nearly $300,000 was sent to a bank account in the name of his bogus business, Aldana-Martinez made a series of wire transfers to unrelated companies to pay for electronic items that were then shipped to Colombia and Mexico, where they were sold to produce laundered funds for the drug traffickers.

The evidence showed that Aldana-Martinez laundered approximately $15.5 million between 2015 and 2017.

The man who oversaw the money laundering enterprise – Daniel Shaun Zilke, a.k.a. “The Englishman,” 49, of Mexico City – pleaded guilty in December 2023 to conspiracy to aid and abet drug distribution, conspiracy to launder money, and obstruction of an official government proceeding for stealing and attempting to cover up the theft of $150,000 in DEA undercover funds. Zilke is expected to be sentenced in the coming months.

The third defendant in the case – Jeffrey Mark Thompson, a.k.a. “The Cowboy,” 62, of Springtown, Texas – pleaded guilty in November 2023 to conspiracy to aid and abet drug distribution, conspiracy to launder money, and money laundering. Thompson is expected to be sentenced in the coming months. Zilke and Thompson face decades in prison.

A fourth defendant in the case – Juan Rachid Dergal-Zulbaran, 49, of Mexico City – is currently a fugitive.

According to court documents, the investigation into Zilke’s operation started in late 2015 when an undercover DEA agent posing as a money launderer contacted Zilke. When he pleaded guilty, Zilke admitted telling the undercover “he had a client in Europe who needed hundreds of millions of dollars moved to Mexico, and that he could use the bank account of a charity in Dallas, Texas to assist in laundering the money.”

The undercover agent agreed to assist Zilke by allowing him to use bank accounts associated with cash-intensive businesses. Subsequently, Zilke and his associates arranged numerous pickups of large sums of cash from drug traffickers in cities all over the country, funds that were deposited at Zilke’s direction into various bank accounts, including one controlled by Aldana-Martinez and another in the name of Thompson’s purported charity, Peace Through Water Foundation.

When he pleaded guilty, Thompson admitted that he used the Peace Through Water bank account to launder drug money.

Zilke, Thompson, and Aldana-Martinez each earned a commission that was a percentage of the amount laundered through their respective accounts, according to court documents.

During the investigation, Zilke approached the DEA in 2019 and offered his cooperation to expose the money laundering organization. After being made a cooperator and agreeing to always be truthful, Zilke received $200,000 in official government funds to be delivered to defendant Thompson. The intent was for Thompson to launder the money through his bank accounts and return the money to DEA undercover accounts. But, as Zilke admitted in his plea agreement, approximately two weeks after the cash delivery, Zilke returned to Thompson’s residence and took back $150,000 without telling the DEA agents. After this theft of government funds, he repeatedly lied to the agents about the money and made excuses for why it was taking so long to receive the wire transfers for the full $200,000.

DEA Seattle and DEA San Ysidro investigated this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys Julie J. Shemitz, James A. Santiago and Kyle W. Kahan of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section prosecuted this case.

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


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated July 8, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-163