CHICAGO – Prosecutors in Chicago say 32 people from the U.S. and Mexico face charges in a more than $100 million gold-for-cash scheme to launder Sinaloa drug cartel profits.
A 311-page complaint unsealed this week says narcotics proceeds were used to buy scrap and fine gold. It would be sold to metal refineries in Florida and California, with the revenue eventually going to Mexico.
The complaint says scheme leaders would use threats to ensure cash didn't go missing, telling one informant that cartel enforcers sometimes cut off fingers.
Thirty-one defendants face federal charges. One faces state charges.
Two alleged conspiracy leaders based in Mexico were arrested on related charges while visiting the U.S. last year. Authorities arrested ten suspects recently in the Chicago area and two in Kentucky and Georgia. Many are fugitives.