Texas Man Sentenced to 70 Months for Role in International Money Laundering Conspiracy
ANCHORAGE, AK—U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that a Texas man has been sentenced by Chief United States District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline to serve 70 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to launder drug money out of the United States and into Mexico.
Jose Ramon Canales, 37, of El Paso, Texas, previously pled guilty to conspiring with others to launder the proceeds of drug trafficking internationally. As part of his plea, Canales admitted that he received nearly $100,000 in drug money, which he then worked with co-conspirators to secretly transport out of the country. Upon being released from prison, Canales will be on supervised release for two years.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie C. Courter, who prosecuted the case, Canales was involved in longstanding conspiracies to distribute heroin and methamphetamine to Anchorage, Alaska based drug dealers and then transport the profits from those drug sales out of the United States to co-conspirators operating in Mexico. Canales joined the conspiracy by at least October 2013, when he received $70,000 in drug money from an Alaska co-conspirator. Canales then worked with Mexican co-conspirators to ship three kilograms of heroin from El Paso, Texas to Alaska for distribution.
Several months later, in March 2014, Canales received an additional $28,000 in cash sent as payment for the purchase of one kilogram of heroin. Canales later drove the funds, which he knew were the proceeds of drug trafficking, over the border into Mexico.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Beistline described Canales’ role in the conspiracy as “integral,” noting that Canales chose to become part of a team of drug traffickers whose goals are adverse to everything Americans hold dear. In announcing the sentence, Judge Beistline also focused on the need to deter others from committing similar crimes, the need to punish people involved in criminal activity, and the need to encourage respect for societal norms.
Canales’s sentencing is one of the first related to a string of indictments returned in late 2014 and early 2015 as part of ongoing efforts to dismantle and prosecute several large scale drug trafficking rings with ties to Alaska, California, Texas, Arizona, and Mexico. An Anchorage drug distributor, Daniel Harris, was sentenced in July 2015 to serve 135 months in prison for related drug, guns, and money laundering crimes. Several other defendants are set to be sentenced in the coming months for their roles in trafficking heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine to Alaska and then transporting the cash proceeds of their trafficking activities back to Mexico.
The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). In announcing the sentence, Ms. Loeffler praised the work of the law enforcement agencies involved, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Anchorage Police Department (APD), the Alaska State Troopers (AST), and the Anchorage Airport Police Department. Additional assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Western District of Texas, the Eastern and Central Districts of California, and the District of Arizona, as well as federal agents in all three states.