Boston man admits to role in international money laundering conspiracy which cleaned millions for drug biz

By Gangsters Inc. Editors

A Boston man pleaded guilty Friday to his involvement in a sophisticated international money laundering and drug trafficking organization. 57-year-old Mariano Santana pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. U.S. District Judge Angel Kelley scheduled sentencing for November 30, 2023.

In May 2023, Santana was among 12 individuals from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and California charged in a superseding indictment for their alleged involvement in a sophisticated international money laundering and drug trafficking organization allegedly led by Jin Hua Zhang.

Laundering drug money

According to the charging documents, Zhang allegedly laundered bulk cash for drug dealers and laundered profits from other illegal businesses for a fee. It is alleged that, during the investigation, Zhang directed his co-defendant couriers, and others, to deliver to undercover agents hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and millions of dollars in wire transfers and bank deposits. In total, Zhang and his organization allegedly laundered at least $25 million worth of drug proceeds and funds from other illegal businesses traced to Hong Kong and elsewhere in China, India, Cambodia, and Brazil, among other locations.

Santana was a courier who dropped off drug money to be laundered by the Zhang organization. On two separate occasions in June 2022, Santana delivered bulk cash deliveries of illicit proceeds to a cooperating witness in a Quincy parking lot. Specifically, on June 2, 2022, Santana provided the individual with a bag containing $30,000 in cash. On June 7, 2022, Santana delivered $29,800 in cash, 

The charge of money laundering conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $500,000, or twice the amount involved, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

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