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Arizona large money laundering organization stopped in tracks

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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, working with law enforcement from Arizona and New York, closed up shop of one of the largest drug trafficking, money laundering organization in Arizona. Yesterday, DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman announced the arrest of six members of the “Sanchez Money Laundering Organization”, who were allegedly involved in the laundering of drug trafficking proceeds to various bank accounts and a local Tucson casino.

Over the course of an investigation, DEA agents and various federal and local law enforcement following the money trail found that from about June 2010 and May 2013 the organization laundered approximately $1.6 million through 15 bank accounts. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne placed racketeering liens on all fifteen bank accounts belonging to the six suspects as well as a Tucson home that is believed to have been paid for with the proceeds of drug trafficking.

After receiving a tip during the investigation about a large shipment being delivered in New York by this organization, investigators obtained a search warrant that was served on the shipment, which revealed a Husky 60 gallon air compressor that had been split open, filled with 84 pounds of bundled marijuana then resealed and painted. The shipment was intercepted by law enforcement at the home of the intended recipient.

Those arrested include:

  • Maria Yvette Sanchez-Arvizu
  • Armando Robles Urrea
  • Noemi Suarez
  • Concepcion Suarez
  • Gladis Celaya-Ruelas
  • Frank Babcock

The investigation also revealed that Maria Yvette Sanchez-Arvizu, leader of the organization, was responsible for laundering over $750,000 in personal efforts alone. Two other suspects, Luis and Julio Villagrana were spotted on Tuesday night, but fled from law enforcement and have not yet been picked up

All property or cash forfeited as a result of this investigation will go towards supporting further law enforcement efforts targeted at investigating and prosecuting other racketeering offenses.

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