(DEA)

San Diego Drug and Money Laundering Cell Leader Sentenced to 17 Years

Javier Felix Bayardo, a resident of Sinaloa, Mexico who was living in the San Diego area, was sentenced in federal court to 17 years in custody for his role as the organizer of drug and money-laundering conspiracies and for possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Felix pleaded guilty in August of 2018, admitting that from 2014 until 2017, Felix coordinated the receipt of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana that were smuggled to the San Diego area. He arranged to store the drugs and then deliver them to customers in Southern California and elsewhere.  To do so, Felix maintained control of multiple commercial storage units that he used to store large quantities of drugs following their importation. Felix supervised drug couriers and money launderers in these efforts.

“Today’s sentencing of Javier Felix Bayardo is a victory for our community,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge John Callery.  “Felix Bayardo will spend the next 17 years in federal prison for dealing deadly drugs that caused the destruction of an untold number of lives.  This just sentencing should serve as a warning to anyone who puts profits above the lives of Americans – DEA and our law enforcement partners will use every resource to ensure you are brought to justice and serve time for your crimes.”

Through his plea agreement, Felix also acknowledged that he and others opened dozens of bank accounts that were used to receive cash deposits of drug proceeds from throughout the United States and then withdrawn from the San Diego area for bulk transport to drug suppliers in Mexico.

According to the plea documents, the conspiracy involved the laundering of at least $4.5 million in drug proceeds and at least 26.5 kilograms of cocaine, 938 grams of methamphetamine and 486 kilograms of marijuana that were seized during the investigation. Felix possessed five firearms, which included a .223 caliber automatic rifle and a Glock semi-automatic pistol.

In addition to the 17-year sentence, the court imposed a $30,000 fine. In connection with this case, the court has previously ordered the forfeiture of more than $27,500 in United States currency; Las Vegas real property; two Kawasaki Jet Skis; 25 wristwatches; 26 women’s handbags; 42 pairs of women’s shoes; three large screen televisions; a currency counter and the five firearms.

“Those who attempt to use Southern California as a hub for their illicit drug trafficking and money laundering efforts will continue to face stiff penalties,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “Not only will we aggressively pursue significant prison sentences in these cases but also forfeiture of the ill-gotten gains of the perpetrators in whatever form.” Brewer commended prosecutor Larry Casper and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Postal Service for their excellent work on this case.

 “Traffickers of illegal drugs who corrupt our financial systems to launder their illicit proceeds will be caught and brought to justice,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner. “Our IRS Special Agents are committed to dismantling these drug and money laundering networks by using our financial expertise to identify and trace criminal transactions, stem the flow of dirty money and seize all assets that fund drug cartels.”

“This sentencing is the product of federal law enforcement agencies collaborating together and working with our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office on ridding our communities of illegal narcotics and the violence that so often comes with it,” said Cardell T. Morant, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).  “I hope today’s outcome is seen as a warning to others who are thinking of getting involved in narcotics smuggling to make money.  We will find you and we will bring you to justice.”

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence driven, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime.  The OCDETF program facilitates complex, joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, by managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts, and by leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.

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