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Contraband
04/25/2014

Philadelphia man with ties to Mexican drug cartel sentenced to federal prison

PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for federal narcotics, firearms and money laundering violations.

The sentencing follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Philadelphia Police Department and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.

Eduardo Aponte, 33, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to 180 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez following his conviction for violations of conspiracy to distribute heroin and five kilograms or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin and five kilograms or more of cocaine, conspiracy to cause or attempt to cause a financial institution to fail to file a currency transaction report, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. His girlfriend, Kathleen Diaz, 28, also of Philadelphia, was sentenced to two years probation for violation of knowingly engaging in monetary transaction with the proceeds of drug trafficking greater than $10,000.

"This case shows how much our community is impacted by the crime spread by international drug cartels," said HSI Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge John P. Kelleghan. "HSI will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to vigorously investigate and prosecute those involved in money laundering and the importation of narcotics and other contraband into and out of our country."

On Nov. 1, 2012, HSI Philadelphia special agents and other law enforcement officers executed state search warrants at Aponte and Diaz's residence and vehicle in the Oxford Circle neighborhood of Philadelphia, resulting in the discovery and seizure of seven bricks of cocaine weighing approximately 5.95 kilograms, 53 grams of heroin, $410,188 in U.S. currency hidden inside a cardboard diaper box, 52 blank $500 money orders totaling $26,000, two stolen handguns and ammunition, a money counting machine, cell phones, and various evidence of a large-scale drug trafficking and money laundering operation.

The HSI investigation determined that Aponte was a Philadelphia representative of a Mexican drug trafficking organization and that his girlfriend Diaz, aided him in laundering the proceeds of his drug distribution activities. Diaz and Aponte pleaded guilty July 24, 2013, and July 25, 2013, respectively, to the above violations.

The seized currency and money orders were forfeited by the government.

The investigation was conducted under the auspices of the HSI-led High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Money Laundering Initiative.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Pavlock in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.