Three More Defendants Guilty Of Participating In Multi-State Drug Trafficking Operation
Laredo DTO Imported More Than 1,000 Kilos Of Heroin From Mexico
PHILADELPHIA – Angel Mascorro, 52, of Aurora, Illinois pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit money laundering and seven counts of money laundering. The guilty plea follows the trial of two of his co-defendants – Alejandro Sotelo, 43, of Chicago, IL, and Francisco Gonzalez Jose, 44, of Philadelphia, PA, who were found guilty late last Friday night by a federal jury, of taking part in a continuing criminal enterprise and other charges. The jury also found Sotelo and Gonzalez Jose guilty of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, conspiracy to import heroin, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and, as to Gonzalez Jose, possession with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin; and as to Sotelo distribution of 14 kilograms of heroin. All three were members of the Laredo Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO). Sentencing hearings are scheduled for August of 2016. Sotelo and Gonzalez Jose each face a mandatory minimum of 10 years up to life in prison; Mascorro faces a significant term of imprisonment. To date, 18 defendants (including Mascorro) have pleaded guilty; four defendants, including alleged kingpins Antonio Laredo and Ismael Laredo and their wives, are in Mexico. Another five defendants are awaiting trial.
Brothers Antonio and Ismael Laredo, the alleged leaders of the Laredo DTO, supervised 21 defendants in an operation that imported multiple kilos of heroin from Mexico into the United States and distributed it to other drug traffickers in Philadelphia, Camden, NJ, Chicago, IL, Atlanta, GA, and New York, NY. According to court documents, the Laredo DTO smuggled-in approximately 1,000 kilograms of heroin using various concealment techniques such as placing kilogram quantities of heroin in car batteries, car bumpers, concealed vehicle traps, and sealed fruit and vegetable cans. Alejandro Sotelo served as a DTO cell head in Chicago where he oversaw the stash house operation and the movement of multi kilogram quantities of heroin from Mexico into Chicago. Sotelo also arranged the trans-shipment of multi-kilogram quantities of heroin to Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.
Members of the DTO used violence, such as assaults and kidnapping, threats of violence, including murder and arson, and firearms, to protect their product and proceeds and to prevent members from withdrawing from the organization. The DTO supplied multi-kilogram quantities of heroin to drug traffickers in the Philadelphia area, including the (Christian) Serrano DTO, the (Darbin and Gabriel) Vargas DTO, and the Camden, New Jersey based (Confesor) Montalvo organization, among others.
According to the indictment, members of the Laredo DTO would transport heroin shipments by various means, including car and train. The Laredo brothers had special car batteries manufactured for the purpose of concealing the loads of heroin and, in 2012, a courier used that method to deliver three kilograms of heroin to Philadelphia. A shipment of four kilograms was concealed inside a car speaker box. A shipment of 7.6 kilograms of heroin was concealed in sealed fruit and vegetable cans in Texas, and the couriers were directed to deliver the heroin to defendants Darbin Vargas and Gabriel Vargas, of the Vargas DTO in Philadelphia.
The DTO consisted of numerous relatives and associates who set up “funnel accounts” that were used for the purpose of laundering the proceeds of the drug operation back to Mexico. The Laredo brothers, it is alleged, used a variety of money laundering techniques, including the use of the funnel accounts, wire transfers of funds, and Western Union money grams, to launder at least $5 million of the heroin proceeds back to Mexico, where the Laredo brothers currently reside.
In addition to the prison terms, each defendant in the case faces possible fines, periods of supervised release, a criminal forfeiture judgment to the United States of up to $60 million, and special assessments.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s offices in Philadelphia, PA, Allentown, PA, Camden, NJ, Mexico City, Mexico, Chicago and Rockford, IL, Newark, NJ, New York, NY, Tyler, TX, Raleigh, NC, Jefferson City and St. Louis, MS, Richmond, VA, and the DEA Special Operations Division; FBI, Philadelphia; U.S. Marshals Service; Homeland Security Investigations in Philadelphia, PA and Richmond, VA; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Philadelphia Police Department; Darby Borough Police Department; SEPTA Transit Police Department; Berks County District Attorney’s Office; Bucks County District Attorney’s Office; Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA in New Jersey: the N.J. Attorney General’s Office, N.J. Parole Board, Cherry Hill Police Department, Delaware River Port Authority Police, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Camden County Sheriff’s Office; in Illinois: Rockford Police Department, Will County Sheriff's Department, Skokie Police Department, Aurora Police Department, Oak Lawn Police Department, Addison Police Department, Prospect Heights Police Department, Chicago Police Department, Arlington Heights Police Department, West Chicago Police Department, Cook County Sheriff's Department, and McHenry County Narcotics Task Force; in Texas: Texas Department of Public Safety, CID Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Pleasant Police Department; in Missouri: Missouri State Highway Patrol, Audrain County Sheriff’s Department, East Central Drug Task Force; in Virginia: the Mecklenberg County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Virginia State Police; and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina. Support was provided by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania State Police, the U
Assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Northern District of Illinois, the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph T. Labrum, III, Nelson S.T. Thayer, Jr., and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Strauss, of the Justice Department's National Security Division.