A federal grand jury sitting in U.S. District Court in Roanoke indicted four people allegedly associated with Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) on federal money laundering charges.
U. S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Jesse Fong, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington Field Division, announced the charges Friday, according to a release.
An indictment is not an indication of guilt. Those named in indictments are entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The grand jury returned an indictment charging Alejandro Escarcega-Avila, 40, Francisco Alvarez-Rosales, Meliton Alvarez-Rosales, and Noe Salvador Becerra-Gonzalez. All four defendants are citizens of Mexico living locally in Axton, Virginia.
All four defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. In addition, Escarcega-Avila is charged with one count of illegal reentry of a previously removed alien and one count of illegal possession of a firearm by an illegal alien.
According to the indictment, beginning no later than 2018 and continuing to on or about January 2020, the defendants allegedly conspired to conduct financial transactions affecting interstate commerce, specifically the transfer, delivery and exchange of U.S. currency, which involved the proceeds from the distribution and manufacturing of controlled substances.
As part of the alleged conspiracy, members and affiliates of CJNG transported cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other substances, into the United States from Mexico. CJNG allegedly recruited individuals from Mexico to live in Axton to facilitate the distribution of these controlled substances from CJNG throughout the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
The defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly received large amounts of U.S. currency that was payment for the distribution of these controlled substances, and transmitted that currency to members and affiliates of CJNG in Mexico, the indictment alleged.
The investigation was funded in part by the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program. The OCDETF program supplies critical federal funding and coordination that allows federal and state agencies to work together to successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute major interstate and international drug trafficking organizations and other criminal enterprises.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations, the Virginia State Police, and the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erin Harrigan and Sean Welsh are prosecuting the case.