A West Covina man was sentenced to three years in federal prison Tuesday for laundering more than $900,000 in drug money over a two-year period via a black market peso exchange scheme for Mexico-based drug traffickers.
Oscar Sanchez, 52, pleaded guilty last November to a single count of concealment money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
A black market peso exchange scheme allows drug traffickers who have their proceeds in U.S. dollars to convert it to a different currency, such as Mexican pesos, via the sale of goods shipped across international borders.
From 2017 to 2019, Sanchez, who worked in downtown Los Angeles, laundered drug money from the United States to Mexico. According to court documents, accomplices based in Mexico told drug traffickers to deliver drug proceeds to Sanchez.
The traffickers contacted Sanchez and used coded language to arrange the delivery of money. Sanchez met with the traffickers at his place of business in Los Angeles and at other locations where he received the money. Using coded language, Sanchez reported to his co-conspirators the amount of money received.
The accomplices directed Sanchez to provide the money to third parties in the United States and pay invoices at Los Angeles-based businesses to conceal the source of the money. The U.S.-based third parties who received the money directed payments to be made to accomplices in Mexico, completing the money laundering cycle.
In total, Sanchez laundered at least $914,641 in drug proceeds, federal prosecutors said.
“By assisting members of Mexico-based narcotics trafficking organizations (to) move their proceeds to Mexico, (Sanchez) contributed to the cycle of narcotics distribution that causes substantial harm to communities in the United States,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed in Los Angeles federal court. “(Sanchez’s) use of coded language during dozens of intercepted calls demonstrate that he was deeply involved in the conduct.”