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Feds arrest New Jersey man in money laundering scheme linked to El Chapo

September 18, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Feds arrest New Jersey man in money laundering scheme linked to El Chapo

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Authorities in New Jersey have extradited to Florida, who is the subject of an open warrant for  his role in a major international money laundering ring allegedly connected to Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Law enforcement officials say Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office arrested 41-year-old Ambioris Acosta de la Cruz, of Perth Amboy, last month for an outstanding warrant filed in a Miami-Dade County court.

Cruz is named in a criminal indictment charging him and over a dozen co-conspirators for operating an elaborate multi-nation money laundering ring for the Sinaloa Cartel and Colombian drug traffickers.

Before his extradition to Florida, authorities had held de la Cruz at the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Facility, NJ.com reported.

A district court judge ordered the suspect held without bail after appearing in Miami-Dade County Superior Court earlier this week on charges of racketeering and money laundering.

According to the arrest warrant filed in Miami-Dade court earlier this year, the arrest of de la Cruz was the result of a federal investigation involving the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Miami-Dade Police Department and the Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney.

As previously reported by JammedUp News,  the investigation dubbed “Operation Neymar” uncovered a “black market peso exchange” which involved the laundering of millions of dollars of illegal drug proceeds through the United States financial system.

Federal investigators allege Cruz took part in a $200,000 transaction in Perth Amboy which was orchestrated by Ivan Andres Lizarazo Mendoza, a known Sinaloa cartel operative and one of the primary targets of the probe.

According to the criminal indictment, Cruz handed off a shopping bag with a box designed to hold an Xbox gaming system containing cash wrapped in plastic to an undercover Homeland Security agent at a New Jersey strip mall on Jan. 6, 2015.

The warrant states federal law enforcement agents trailed Cruz back to an apartment building on Hall Avenue, in Perth Amboy.

Prosecutors said once the completion of the transaction was confirmed, Mendoza instructed co-conspirators to wire the money to various businesses in New York City, Florida, and Venezuela.

Investigators determined the money laundering ring washed around $1 million a month between July 25, 2014, and Aug. 24, 2015.

Authorities also seized quantities of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and recovered $1 million in cash belonging to Guzman’s Sinaloa Federation cartel, recognized by U.S. law enforcement agencies as the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world.

Agents arrested a total of 18 co-conspirators in the operation on money laundering and racketeering charges, according to the warrant.

Cruz is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 24.

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