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Published on May 23, 2024
Suspected Money Laundering Operatives for Mexican Cartels Arrested in Chicago and GeorgiaSource: Library of Congress

Two suspected operatives of a notorious money laundering ring were nabbed by law enforcement as part of an operation to choke off the financial lifelines fueling some of Mexico's most dangerous drug syndicates. As detailed in a release by the Department of Justice, Li Pei Tan of Buford, Georgia, was arrested today, while Chaojie Chen, a foreign national in Chicago, was taken into custody on April 18.

The allegations are that these two men worked for an organization, that turned the dirty dollars from drug sales into seemingly clean cash, skillfully attempting to hide the tracks leading back to the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels, notorious for their roles in the fentanyl epidemic plaguing the United States. According to a federal complaint, they are believed to have traveled extensively across America and to have colluded with others in China to clean drug money through complex financial maneuvers.

Prosecutions for such crimes carry a heavy burden, with each man facing up to 20 years behind bars if convicted of conspiring to commit money laundering. Their arrests spotlight the relentless pursuit by authorities on the trafficking networks and their financial arteries. The case is being led by the DEA's Special Operations Division, Bilateral Investigations Unit with help from an array of DEA offices including those in Chicago, Atlanta, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

The DEA's National Drug Threat Assessment underscores the pivotal role these cartels play in the fentanyl crisis. The defendants' alleged actions are claimed to represent just a fraction of the money laundered by organizations operating as lifelines for the cartel's operations in the United States.

This enforcement action forms part of the wider crackdown under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces initiative, which aims to identify and dismantle the top-tier players of criminal networks. For more insights into the OCDETF strategy, the public can visit Meanwhile, as is customary in the American legal system, the indicted Tan and Chen remain presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.