US Charges 6 With Laundering Mexican Drug Cartel Cash Using Crypto and Casinos

The U.S. Department of Justice charged the six individuals with alleged involvement in laundering funds from Mexican drug cartels after an investigation spanning years.

Oct 16, 2020 at 8:58 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:10 a.m. UTC

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged six individuals over alleged involvement in laundering drug cartel funds using cryptocurrency.

  • On Thursday, the DoJ unsealed an indictment (filed on Sept. 24) at the U.S. Eastern District Court of Virginia against Xizhi Li, 45, Jianxing Chen, 40, Jiayu Chen, 46, Eric Yong Woo, 43, Jingyuan Li, 47, and Tao Liu, 45.
  • The DoJ alleges the six individuals were part of an organization that laundered "millions" for the Mexican drug cartels using casinos and front companies.
  • They are also alleged to have used foreign and domestic bank accounts as well as bulk cash smuggling to launder the funds.
  • Phone applications such as WeChat and WhatsApp are said to have been used by the group to communicate their illicit activity.
  • One of the six, Tao Liu, is alleged to have attempted to use wire transfers and cryptocurrency to bribe a U.S. Department of State official to create passports for entry into the U.S.
  • The six face up to 14 charges including conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, attempted identity fraud, and bribery.
  • Superseding a previous indictment, the latest charges result from an investigation spanning nearly four years.
  • Law enforcement looked into the relationship between foreign drug trafficking organizations and Asian money laundering networks in the U.S., China, and elsewhere, according to a DoJ press release.
  • Each of the six now faces a minimum of 10 years imprisonment with a maximum sentence of life behind bars.

Read the court document in full below:

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