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Tijuana Man Pleads Guilty To Laundering Money For Drug Cartels

The John Rhoades Federal Justice Center in downtown San Diego, June 12, 2019.
Alexander Nguyen
The John Rhoades Federal Justice Center in downtown San Diego, June 12, 2019.

The leader of an international money laundering organization responsible for moving millions in drug trafficking proceeds from the United States to Mexican criminal organizations pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court Tuesday.

Manuel Reynoso Garcia, 63, of Tijuana, is slated to be sentenced Sept. 16 for his role in laundering money on behalf of Mexican criminal organizations that include the Sinaloa Cartel through unlicensed money transmitting businesses.

Federal prosecutors say Reynoso is the last of eight defendants to plead guilty in the case and could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Reynoso used a variety of channels between 2014 and 2017 to turn cash collected from various American cities into funds for criminal organizations across the border.

RELATED: Dozens Charged With Conspiring To Launder Drug Cartel Money

Couriers would travel to different U.S. cities and collect money in amounts ranging from $150,000 to $600,000, then deposit smaller amounts of those proceeds into "funnel accounts," bank accounts held in the names of account holders recruited by the money laundering organization.

The funds were then transferred to shell corporations in Mexico and ultimately delivered to the Sinaloa Cartel and other criminal organizations, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"This investigation has made sure that the Sinaloa Cartel and others like it have one less way to wash their dirty money," U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Scott Brunner said the case against Reynoso and his co-defendants has "dismantled" the organization.

"Shutting down illegal cash proceeds returning to the drug cartels is like stopping the blood flow to the heart of these major criminal enterprises," Brunner said.

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