The leader of an international money laundering organization in the Dominican Republic admitted Friday his role in a conspiracy to commit money laundering, announced United States Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.
Luis Velázquez-Cordero, alias El Pequeno, 37, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to count one of an indictment alleging he formed a conspiracy to commit money laundering. . Velázquez-Cordero was extradited to the United States following his arrest in the Dominican Republic on July 28, 2020.
El Pequeño, was booked as a “launderer” of money from drug trafficking for the network of César Emilio Peralta (Caesar the Abuser).
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Velázquez-Cordero was the leader of a money laundering organization that used the United States banking system to convert more than $80 million in cash from illegal drug sales into cashier’s checks and then deposit the checks into bank accounts. bank accounts in the United States so that the money could be transferred back to international drug trafficking organizations in the Dominican Republic and other countries. Velázquez-Cordero directed conspirators in New Jersey, New York and Florida to collect drug proceeds in cash and exchange them for cashier’s checks at US banks. Velázquez-Cordero provided the amount of each check, the beneficiary and the bank accounts in which the checks should be deposited. The checks were then deposited into the recipients’ accounts, many of which were controlled by shell companies and used as a means to facilitate the laundering of illegal drug proceeds. The cashier’s check scheme was designed to hide the nature, origin, ownership, and control of illegal drug proceeds in order to avoid scrutiny from law enforcement and banking institutions.
As part of his statement, Velázquez-Cordero also agreed to hand over $1.4 million in US currency seized during the investigation, as well as five properties in the Dominican Republic and 10 vehicles, including a Ferrari.
The money laundering charge to which Velazquez-Cordero pleaded guilty carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the amount involved in the crime, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for September 14, 2022.
United States Attorney Sellinger recognized special agents from the New Jersey Division of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; the DEA Special Operations Division and the Santo Domingo office, under the supervision of Special Agent in Charge Renita D. Foster; special agents from IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tammy Tomlins; US Customs and Border Protection officers, New York. Customs and Border Protection, New York Field Office, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Frank Russo; the Morristown, New Jersey Police Department, under the direction of Chief Darnell Richardson; the Clifton, New Jersey Police Department, under the direction of Chief Tom Rinaldi; the Passaic, New Jersey Police Department, under the direction of Chief Luis A. Guzmán; the New York City Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell; the New York City Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, under the direction of Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan; the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes; the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella; the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Colonel Patrick J. Callahan; the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, under the direction of Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, with the investigation that led to today’s statement. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs provided valuable assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of Velázquez-Cordero. Prosecutor Sellinger thanked Dominican Republic officials for his help in the investigation.
The government is represented by Deputy Attorney General Jonathan M. Peck of the National Security Unit in Newark.
This case is part of an operation by the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. More information about the OCDETF program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.