Final Defendant Sentenced for Money Laundering and Drug Conspiracy
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 30, 2010|
HOUSTON—Pablo Gonzalez, aka Ramon Flores, 38, a Colombian national, has been sentenced to prison for drug trafficking and money laundering violations, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today along with Rodney E. Clarke, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI). Gonzalez was sentenced to 90 months in prison yesterday in federal court in Houston before U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore.
Flores pled guilty on July 14, 2008. Co-defendant Diego Fernando Arias, aka Carlos Maldonado, 36, also a Columbian national, pleaded guilty on June 9, 2008, to drug trafficking conspiracy and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments from March 2007 to July 2007. Judge Gilmore sentenced Arias to 210 months in federal prison on Oct. 18, 2010.
"Today's sentencing and that of Arias is a direct result of the committed law enforcement partnership of IRS, Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office and our state and local partners in combating illicit narcotics and narcotics related money laundering violations," said Clarke. "These sentences should send a clear message that those who choose to become involved in these types of criminal activities will be identified, investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds were laundered through bank accounts in several major cities. A joint federal investigation named "Operation Red Dolly" was conducted through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force with the DEA, FBI, IRS-CI and local law enforcement including the Houston Police Department. The investigation revealed that Arias controlled a heroin trafficking and money laundering organization working throughout Colombia and the United States. Arias, Flores and numerous co-defendants transported and sold kilogram quantities of heroin in New York City and Detroit, Mich., in 2007. Arias directed the collection of drug sales proceeds in those cities which were subsequently laundered by Arias through New York City, Detroit, Miami and Houston bank accounts. The currency was divided into small amounts and deposited into several nominee bank accounts to move the proceeds across the U.S. The amount of profits laundered by the organization totaled approximately $750,000.
Flores and Arias have been in custody since their arrest where they will remain to serve their respective sentences. Four other co-defendants in the money laundering conspiracy were charged in this case and have all been convicted after pleading guilty.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Claude Hippard.