Woman Pleads Guilty to Laundering Money in Heroin Trafficking Operation
A woman illegally residing in the United States pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court for her involvement in a large scale heroin trafficking operation, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.
Sonia Hernandez, 55, pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy. From January 2018 until June 2019, Hernandez knowingly sent drug proceeds to a Mexican source of supply while working at a Tulsa money remitter business. She admitted to using nominee names during the transactions in order to conceal her criminal acts and to further the drug conspiracy. A “nominee name” is used to hide the true recipient of illicit money. Hernandez will be responsible for laundering drug proceeds for not less than 10 kilograms and nor more than 30 kilograms of heroin.
“Drug traffickers launder money as a means of concealing the illegal profits that they hope to pocket. This happens right here in Oklahoma,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “Unfortunately, the illegal drug trade leaves American families devastated by addiction. This case is being prosecuted by the experienced prosecutors in my Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Unit. They are relentless in their pursuit of justice and will hold accountable these peddlers of addiction.”
Hernandez was one of more than 30 individuals charged with money laundering, drug conspiracy and other crimes. The initial indictment was first announced by U.S. Attorney Trent Shores in May 2019. The investigation involved the Giovanni Drug Trafficking Organization and was given the name Operation Smack Dragon. See the indictment press release here.
U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan scheduled set sentencing for Sept. 8, 2020.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations led this investigation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation, the Oklahoma State Attorney General’s Office, and Tulsa Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel-lyn McCormick prosecuted the case. AUSA McCormick is the Lead Attorney for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit for the Northern District of Oklahoma.