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Press Release

Member of International Money Laundering Network Pleads Guilty to Laundering Millions of Dollars in Drug Proceeds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Belize City, Belize, man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit money laundering after laundering tens of millions of dollars of drug proceeds on behalf of notorious international drug trafficking organizations.

According to court documents, from at least 2014 and continuing through 2020, Jianxing Chen, 44, led and controlled a network of couriers who transported cash generated by the sale of cocaine throughout the United States – including Chicago,  Los Angeles, New York, as well as in the Eastern District of Virginia. At Chen’s direction, couriers transported drug money across the country to locations in New York City. From there it was laundered through a variety of methods until it, or its equivalent value, was remitted to drug trafficking organizations in Latin America, including Mexico. Chen received “contracts” to transport and launder this money through co-conspirators who were prosecuted and convicted based on the same superseding indictment

Chen is scheduled to be sentenced on August 29. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

In October 2021, co-defendant, Xizhi Li, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for leading the conspiracy to launder tens of millions of dollars for foreign drug trafficking organizations. Li signed a consent order of forfeiture for $10,000,000 to the United States pursuant to his plea.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted the plea.

The DEA’s Louisville Division and the DEA’s Special Operations Division – Bilateral Investigations Unit investigated this case, with assistance from the DEA’s Office of Special Intelligence, Document and Media Exploitation Unit and the DEA’s offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Omaha, Atlanta, Newark, Portland Dallas, Mexico City, Merida (Mexico), Guatemala City, Belmopan (Belize), Beijing, Hong Kong, Jakarta (Indonesia), Manila (Philippines), Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Lima (Peru), and Canberra (Australia). The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Interpol, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center (CBP – National Targeting Center) were partners in the investigation of this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys David A. Peters and Rachael C. Tucker and Trial Attorneys Mary K. Daly and Stephen A. Sola of the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section prosecuted the case.

This prosecution is part of two Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). investigations known as Operation Dark Castle and Operation Taishan Triangle. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:19-cr-334.

Updated July 8, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Financial Fraud