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Sinaloa Cartel financial operator extradited to the United States

July 27, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Sinaloa Cartel financial operator extradited to the United States

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Mexican officials have extradited an alleged financial operative for the Sinaloa Cartel to Texas on Tuesday, where he stands accused of laundering funds through a San Antonio real estate investment and extorting his business partner in a movie deal, a prequel to the Hollywood hit “The Passion of the Christ.”

According to MySA.com, the U.S. Treasury Department alleges that Mauricio Sánchez Garza laundered money on behalf of Sinaloa Cartel boss, Juan Jose Esparragoza “El Azul” and Rafael Caro Quintero, known as the ‘Godfather’ of the Mexican drug trade.

Sánchez Garza faces charges including laundering money, conspiracy, and extortion out of the Federal District Court of San Antonio.

Last year, federal authorities seized a two lots that one of Sanchez’s companies intended to develop into apartment complexes. In 2014, a judge ruled that the feds could confiscate a house and an empty lot connected to Sanchez-Garza.

The suspect’s brother, Alejandro, came to the United States in 2013 and pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy. As part of his plea deal, he was forced to give up his restaurant, the Barbaresco Tuscan Grill, and Enoteca.

The man was initially sentenced to five years behind bars. However, his punishment was reduced to 2.5 years and has since been released from prison.

Officials say Sanchez-Garza also stands accused of orchestrating the kidnapping of a business partner’s brother over a movie script, which was a prequel to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”

Mexican authorities captured Sánchez-Garza near his hometown of Guadalajara back in January. He first appeared in court on Tuesday afternoon in San Antonio. If he is found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Caro Quintero, who was one of the founders of the now dismantled Guadalajara Cartel, was released from prison after serving 28 years for the murder Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique Camarena.

El Azul was the partner of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada, who helped negotiate peace deals with rival cartels.

Reports suggest Esparragoza died of a heart attack in 2014. However, U.S. and Mexico authorities have not found evidence to collaborate his death.

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