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Press Release

KC Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Wiring Drug-Trafficking Profits to Mexico

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri
Co-Defendant Pleads Guilty to $4.7 Million Meth, Heroin Conspiracy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The owner of an Olathe, Kansas, business pleaded guilty in federal court today to her role in a money-laundering conspiracy to transfer the proceeds of heroin and methamphetamine trafficking to Mexico. A Kansas City, Mo., woman also pleaded guilty to her role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy.

Ana Lilia Leal-Martinez, 48, a citizen of Mexico residing in Overland Park, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Beth Phillips to participating in a conspiracy to commit money laundering from May 23, 2020, to Sept. 20, 2022.

Leal-Martinez is the owner of Imagen Leal in Olathe, Kan., which offers money transfer services. By pleading guilty today, Leal-Martinez admitted that she accepted drug proceeds from co-conspirators, including Jose Jesus Sanchez-Mendez, also known as “Michoacano,” 41, a Mexican national. Those drug proceeds were then sent by wire transfer to individuals in Michoacan, Mexico.

Between Jan. 1, 2022, and June 8, 2022, Leal-Martinez sent wires totaling $83,850 to Mexico from her business in furtherance of the money-laundering conspiracy. These transfers were structured and sent under assumed names in order to avoid suspicion and detection.

Leal-Martinez, one of 44 defendants indicted in this case, was identified in 2022 after Homeland Security Investigations initiated the investigation of a drug-trafficking organization that distributed more than 335 kilograms of methamphetamine, 22 kilograms of heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl, among other drugs, sourced from Mexico in the Kansas City area. Investigators identified numerous bulk cash smugglers and drug traffickers working for the drug-trafficking organization as part of the $4.7 million conspiracy.

Co-defendant Flor Gonzalez-Celestine, 54, of Kansas City, Mo., also pleaded guilty today to participating in a $4.7 million conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin from Feb. 28, 2020, to Sept. 20, 2022. Gonzalez-Celestine participated in four controlled drug buys that were monitored by law enforcement. She sold more than a kilogram of methamphetamine to a confidential informant and was observed in possession of approximately 2.2 additional kilograms of methamphetamine.

Sanchez-Mendez has pleaded guilty to his role in a continuing criminal enterprise, to his role in the drug-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracies, and to illegally reentering the United States. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Under federal statutes, Leal-Martinez is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole. Gonzalez-Celestine is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick C. Edwards and Megan A. Baker. It was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Jackson County Drug Task Force, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Independence, Mo., Police Department, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Olmsted County, Minn., Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the FBI, the Clay County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force

This case 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

KC Metro Strike Force

This prosecution was brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Co-located Strike Forces Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations against a continuum of priority targets and their affiliate illicit financial networks. These prosecutor-led co-located Strike Forces capitalize on the synergy created through the long-term relationships that can be forged by agents, analysts, and prosecutors who remain together over time, and they epitomize the model that has proven most effective in combating organized crime. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations, and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic, or national security of the United States.

Updated July 1, 2024

Drug Trafficking