Sinaloa Cartel members and Chinese underground bankers were arrested in a plot to launder drug money in the U.S., the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday.

The DOJ unsealed a multi-year investigation Monday, ‘Operation Fortune Runner’, that concluded with superseding indictments of 24 defendants associated with the scheme on April 4. They said 20 of the individuals associated with the scheme are scheduled to be arraigned in the US District Court of Los Angeles “in the coming weeks,” according to a press release.

The scheme involved Chinese underground bankers laundering money so funds could be repatriated back to Mexico. The Chinese bankers created a market for US currency to launder drug money by offering Chinese nationals a method of getting around the $50,000 limit for capital flight out of China.

“Drug traffickers increasingly have partnered with Chinese underground money exchanges to take advantage of the large demand for U.S. dollars from Chinese nationals,” the DOJ said in the press release. “The funds that are transferred in China are then used to pay for goods purchased by businesses and organizations in Mexico or elsewhere such as consumer goods or items needed to aid the drug trafficking organization to manufacture illegal drugs, such as precursor chemicals, including fentanyl.”

The DOJ charged all defendants with “one count of conspiracy to aid and abet the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine, one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.” The Mexican and Chinese governments cooperated with the DOJ to apprehend the suspects that fled the United States, according to the press release.


The DOJ says in the indictment that the Sinaloa cartel are “largely responsible for the massive influx of fentanyl into the United States over the past approximately eight years.” From Jan. 2021 to 2022, CDC data showed more than 107,000 Americans have died of drug overdose, with 66.5% involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

As part of the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately $5 million in narcotics proceeds, 302 pounds of cocaine, 92 pounds of methamphetamine, 3,000 Ecstasy pills, 44 pounds of psilocybin (magic mushrooms), numerous ounces of ketamine, three semi-automatic rifles with high-capacity magazines and eight semi-automatic handguns, according to the DOJ.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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