Leader of International Money Laundering Network Sentenced for Laundering Millions of Dollars in Drug Proceeds

A foreign national was sentenced today to 10 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $6 million for conspiracy to commit money laundering after laundering millions of dollars of drug proceeds on behalf of international drug trafficking organizations.

According to court documents, from at least 2014 to 2020, Jianxing Chen, 42, of Belize City, Belize, led and controlled a network of couriers who transported cash generated by the sale of cocaine throughout the United States – including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta – from those locations to New York City. From there, the cash was laundered through a variety of methods until it, or its equivalent value, was remitted to drug trafficking organizations in Latin America, including Mexico. Chen received “contracts” to transport and launder this money through co-conspirators who were prosecuted and convicted based on the same superseding indictment. 

Chen coordinated the laundering of multimillion dollar quantities of drug proceeds from Latin American drug trafficking organizations, including organizations based in Mexico, into the hands of Chinese nationals, who subsequently engaged in a sophisticated scheme to covertly launder the drug money into mainland China, largely circumventing the U.S. financial system.

Chen pleaded guilty on May 23. In October 2021, co-defendant Xizhi Li was sentenced to 15 years in prison for leading the conspiracy to launder tens of millions of dollars for foreign drug trafficking organizations. Li signed a consent order of forfeiture for $10,000,000 to the United States pursuant to his plea.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia, and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram made the announcement.

The DEA Louisville Division and the DEA’s Special Operations Division, Bilateral Investigations Unit investigated the case, with assistance from the DEA’s Office of Special Intelligence, Document and Media Exploitation Unit and the DEA’s offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Omaha, Atlanta, Newark, Portland (Oregon), Dallas, Mexico City, Merida (Mexico), Guatemala City, Belmopan (Belize), Beijing, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Manila, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Lima, and Canberra. The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Interpol, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center were partners in the investigation.

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided valuable assistance in securing the extradition of Chen from Peru. The United States also thanks Peruvian law enforcement authorities for their assistance and collaboration.

Deputy Chief Mary K. Daly and Chief Stephen Sola of the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, Money Laundering and Forfeiture Unit, former Assistant U.S. Attorneys David A. Peters and Rachael C. Tucker and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Aminoff for the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case.

This effort 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 www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

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