The high-level money launderer for the Sinaloa Cartel was sentenced to 188 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to transfer millions of dollars in drug proceeds out of the United States. 

Juan Manuel Alvarez-Inzunza, 41, had a law degree and worked as an attorney in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. According to prosecutors, Alvarez-Inzunza regularly received requests from the top leadership of the cartel, including Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman, to arrange the collection of drug proceeds in cities across the United States including New York, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Alvarez-Inzunza then worked with associates in Bogota, Colombia to arrange for the transfer of those funds to Mexico, Central America, and other locations. 

Court records indicate agents with Homeland Security Investigations had intercepted communications of Alvarez-Inzunza with high-level cartel leaders starting in 2013. Agents were able to seize over $4 million in bulk currency proceedings with the intercepted information before they could leave the country. 

“Intercepts showed Alvarez-Inzunza orchestrating the transfer of millions more on behalf of the cartel,” Assistant U. S. Attorney Daniel E. Zipp wrote in a statement. 

Authorities found Alvarez-Inzunza orchestrating the transfer of millions more on behalf of the cartel. 

Chief Judge Dana M. Sabraw noted that the Sinaloa cartel is “a very violent organization” and “they don’t exist without money.”

Mexican authorities arrested Alvarez-Inzunza in March 2016 while traveling in the state of Oaxaca. Alvarez-Inzunza was extradited into the United States last year and on May 3, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments in violation. 

“Large-scale drug cartels in Mexico can only survive by manipulating the international financial system to transfer the proceeds of their drug sales out of the United States. Today’s sentence sends a message to global money launderers that they are not safe, wherever they may reside, and we will continue to work with our international partners to bring them to justice.”U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. 

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