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Financial Crimes
11/07/2012

El Paso attorney linked to drug cartel arrested on money laundering charges

El Paso attorney linked to drug cartel arrested on money laundering charges
El Paso attorney linked to drug cartel arrested on money laundering charges

EL PASO, Texas — A local attorney remains in federal custody following his Friday arrest by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) regarding allegations of money laundering for a Mexican drug cartel.

Marco Antonio Delgado, 46, was arrested Nov. 2 at an El Paso restaurant. He is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

An El Paso-area attorney, Delgado is named in a federal indictment charging that between July 2007 through December 2008, in the Western District of Texas, he conspired with other individuals to launder money believed to be drug trafficking proceeds.

According to the investigation, Delgado is linked to a drug cartel based in Guadalajara, Mexico, and accused of conspiring to launder more than $600 million.

Dennis A. Ulrich, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso, said: "Drug cartels operate solely on the basis of greed. However, when they can also corrupt trusted authorities, the integrity and stability of both countries' financial infrastructure may be at risk."

Delgado had his initial appearance in federal court Nov. 5. His preliminary and detention hearing is set for Nov. 8. If convicted, Delgado faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

This HSI investigation was coordinated by HSI El Paso's financial group and the HSI-led Southwest Border Financial Operations and Currency United Strike Force (FOCUS).

FOCUS was created to detect and target a wide variety of financial crimes in west Texas and the state of New Mexico. This multi-agency financial strike force includes the following agencies: HSI, Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission. FOCUS works closely with the U.S. attorney's office, ICE's Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, and the U.S. Secret Service.

Each participating agency uses its unique law enforcement authorities to enhance the capabilities of the strike force. FOCUS investigates the following financial crimes: money laundering, mortgage and bank fraud, structuring, unlicensed money transmitting businesses/couriers, and bulk cash smuggling.