Arizona Drug Cartel Bagman Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Helping Sinaloa Drug Cartel Steal Money From Bank Accounts
The Arizona Drug Cartel Bagman and his co-conspirators acquired the leads from payday loan applications of consumers across the US. The leads consisted of the financial information and bank account information of the prospective victims.
Ramirez admitted the scheme defrauded financial institutions out of more than $1.5 million according to Ramirez.
Ramirez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit access device fraud. A federal judge in San Diego scheduled a sentencing hearing on March 11, 2024. Ramirez faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Federal authorities have also filed cases against other scheme participants in Los Angeles and in Las Vegas.
A Los Angeles grand jury also returned an indictment charging 14 defendants with RICO conspiracy and other charges.
The indictment alleges that the 14 defendants and their associates debited consumers’ bank accounts without authorization. It also states the defendants used shell entities and “micro debits” to conceal the activity from banks.
“Micro debits” serve to conceal fraud by grouping unauthorized charges with a large number of low-value and straw transactions. The large number of transactions are done to lower the fraudster’s chargeback rate.
Co-defendant Harold Sobel also pleaded guilty to bank fraud conspiracy in federal court in Las Vegas. As a result, Sobel was sentenced to 42 months in prison in December 2022.
The Money Went To The Shinloa Drug Cartel
Ramirez’s scheme helped funnel nearly $2.4 million to the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. The whole scheme net roughly $16.5 million for the cartel.
Ramirez and an associate directed employees of the money laundering organization to travel to cities throughout the United States to pick up bulk cash belonging to narcotics traffickers. Following the delivery of the illegal money, the criminal organization laundered the funds through the shell companies and then transferred the laundered funds to bank accounts in Mexico.
Both the FBI and the USPIS were instrumental in investigating the case.