Federal Jury Convicts Suburban Chicago Man of Laundering Drug Proceeds on Behalf of Traffickers in Mexico
CHICAGO — A federal jury has convicted a suburban Chicago man of laundering illegal narcotics proceeds on behalf of drug traffickers in Mexico.
In the summer and fall of 2017, HUAZHI HAN schemed with an individual in Mexico to facilitate the receipt of more than $1 million in narcotics proceeds in the United States. Han picked up the drug money from others in the Chicago area and used the cash to purchase and then re-sell electronic devices. Han and another individual then caused the laundered money to be sent back to the traffickers in Mexico.
In November 2017, Han attempted to receive approximately $100,000 in narcotics money from a drug dealer. At the time, Han was in possession of approximately $200,000 in cash, a firearm, and two loaded magazines. Law enforcement then searched Han’s residence and discovered a money counter, multiple firearms, more than $1.1 million in cash concealed in cookie tins inside of a drop ceiling in the basement, and approximately $200,000 in cash in vacuum-sealed packaging in the basement closet. In June 2018, law enforcement arrested Han after he received approximately $192,000 in money that was represented to Han to be drug money. At that time, Han was again in possession of a loaded firearm.
After a two-week trial in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the jury on Thursday convicted Han, 43, of North Riverside, Ill., on all four charges against him, including one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of attempted concealment money laundering, one count of conducting a financial transaction with funds represented to be drug proceeds, and one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. In addition to the guilty verdicts, the jury returned a special verdict as to the forfeiture of criminally derived property, finding that Han should forfeit approximately $1.5 million in cash, four handguns, a 2016 Mercedes-Benz automobile, a 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan, and an iPhone.
Each money laundering count is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, while the operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business count is punishable by up to five years. U.S. District Judge Andrea R. Wood has not yet set a sentencing date.
The conviction was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Robert J. Bell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Substantial assistance was provided by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago, Chicago Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Department of Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard M. Rothblatt and Alexandra Morgan.