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3 charged with drug trafficking, money laundering

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3 charged with drug trafficking, money laundering

Men accused of being part of Sinaloa drug trafficking organization

Three Mexican men accused of being part of the Sinaloa drug trafficking organization operating in Arizona were indicted Tuesday on drug and money laundering charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.

Jose Rocha Avendano, age unknown, Martin Gamez Meza, 41, and Alejandro Corrales Figueroa, 43, all of Culiacán, Sinaloa, were each charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to import methamphetamine from Mexico to the United States and conspiracy to commit money laundering, said Bill Solomon, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The indictment alleges that Rocha is a high-ranking member of the Avendano drug trafficking organization operating from Sinaloa. Rocha allegedly ran drug trafficking and money laundering operations in Arizona from Sept. 1 , 2006 until Tuesday.

Gamez and Corrales allegedly conspired with Rocha to carry out the operations of the organization, according to the indictment.

The organization allegedly imported large quantities of methamphetamine into the United States and sent the proceeds back to Mexico to fund the drug trafficking further money laundering activity, the indictment said.

“The indictment of a large scale drug trafficker operating in Arizona, while physically located in Sinaloa, Mexico, shows that the United States will vigorously pursue those criminals seeking to use the Arizona corridor to move their drugs into the United States and their illicit proceeds back to Mexico,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel.

The indictment also alleges the organization maintained stash houses in the United States and Mexico and had vehicles with hidden compartments to hide the drugs and money as they crossed the border.

The indictment also contains a $3 million forfeiture allegation.

A conviction for drug distribution and importation carries a maximum life sentence, a $10 million fine, or both. Money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $50,000 fine, or both, Solomon said.

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