Federal authorities revealed that members of the Sinaloa Cartel used a network of Chinese underground bankers to launder more than $50 million in drug proceeds.

This week, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a ten-count superseding indictment charging 24 men allegedly tied to the international conspiracy involving individuals in California, Mexico, and others with ties to China.

“This DEA investigation uncovered a partnership between Sinaloa Cartel associates and a Chinese criminal syndicate operating in Los Angeles and China to launder drug money,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a prepared statement. “Laundering drug money gives the Sinaloa Cartel the means to produce and import their deadly poison into the United States.”

Authorities began charging some individuals in 2023, and soon after, some fled to Mexico. According to the USDOJ, they worked with Mexican and Chinese authorities to arrest several individuals who had fled from Los Angeles.

Federal prosecutors claim the lead defendant, 45-year-old Edgar Joel Martinez Reyes, who is from East L.A., would run a network of couriers who would collect drug cash, and then he would work with Chinese money launderers to make money available to Sinaloa Cartel members in Mexico. Court documents claim that Martinez would use cryptocurrency and various financial schemes to move the funds. These schemes included depositing small amounts of money at a time.

According to the USDOJ, the Chinese underground money laundering network works by individuals depositing Chinese currency into bank accounts. Once the money was deposited, the individual received the cash in U.S. dollars. The Sinaloa Cartel would then use the funds moved to China to pay for various goods and services from Chinese partners who supplied the cartel with precursors or equipment.

Prosecutors claim that the money laundering operation ran from 2019 to 2023 and that in 2021, Martinez Reyes traveled to Mexico, where he struck a deal with the Chinese underground bankers.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com