NEW YORK – United States District Judge Katherine announced today that Jesus Rodriguez-Jimenez, 47, was sentenced today to 30 years in prison by United States District Judge Katherine. He ran an international money laundering business with ties to Mexico, Italy, Hungary, Panama, and China, facilitating the movement of hundreds of millions of dollars in drug proceeds on behalf of drug cartels in Mexico and Central America.
Since July 2013, the DEA has been investigating Jesus Rodriguez-Jimenez’s international money laundering organization and its cartel clients, which together have been involved in trafficking hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and heroin, among other narcotics, and laundering narcotics proceeds through a variety of methods, including through a network of shell corporations under their control. To date, the investigation has resulted in charges against eight defendants, including the successful extradition of alleged high-level money launderer Filippo Magni from Italy earlier this summer.
Through a network of front companies, couriers, and his own armored car company, Rodriguez-Jimenez succeeded in repatriating millions of drug dollars from the streets of New York, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and other cities across the United States, back to cartel interests in Mexico. By introducing these drug dollars into the banking system, he was able to move money wherever the cartel interests directed it, including repatriating this value to Mexico through trade-based money laundering: At the direction of his cartel clients, Rodriguez-Jimenez would wire drug dollars to companies in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. These companies would, in turn, ship merchandise to Mexico or other drug producing countries. There, merchants would accept the shipment of goods, and pay a reduced price, in local currency, to the cartels. In this way, Rodriguez-Jimenez turned street cash in the United States into value in Mexico.
Rodriguez-Jimenez controlled his laundering empire through fear and intimidation. For example, in July 2015, pursuant to the investigation, the DEA seized $100,000 in drug money in Atlanta from Organization courier Sergio Urbina. When he learned of the seizure, Rodriguez-Jimenez ordered Urbina to come to Monterrey, Mexico, to explain himself. After enduring a multiple-day interrogation by Rodriguez-Jimenez’s underlings, complete with the administration of a false polygraph test, he coerced Urbina to execute a false promissory note that Rodriguez-Jimenez later used to try to hold Urbina liable for the value of the seizure – even commencing a fraudulent civil action against Urbina, which Rodriguez-Jimenez continued to pursue from jail.
In total, Rodriguez-Jimenez laundered at least $250 million on behalf of the cartels during the course of the scheme. In addition to the prison term, he was ordered to forfeit $284 million in laundered funds.