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Financial Crimes

Defendants who laundered drug profits sentenced to federal prison

NEW YORK - Two key figures in a large-scale narcotics smuggling and money laundering scheme have been sentenced to federal prison, following a long-term investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Gary Jacques, 35, of Kings Park, NY, was sentenced Tuesday to five concurrent prison terms of 19 years each after being convicted June 29, 2010, on five counts related to cocaine importation and distribution. He also received a five-year concurrent prison sentence for his conviction on conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Robert Guerrero, 35, of Greenlawn, NY, was sentenced Wednesday to two concurrent prison terms of 13 years each for his conviction September 3, 2009, on two counts of possession and conspiracy charges related to distribution of more than five kilograms of cocaine. He also received a five-year concurrent sentence for his conviction on wire fraud violations.

The prison sentences were handed down earlier this week by U.S. District Court Judge Nina Gershon in the Eastern District of New York. Judge Gershon also ordered Jacques to forfeit $343,770 in narcotics proceeds and Guerrero was ordered to forfeit $30,000 and his investment in two pieces of real estate.

Jacques and Guerrero are among more than 60 individuals who have been arrested and criminally charged in an HSI-led investigation into a sophisticated narcotics smuggling and money laundering organization. As part of the scheme, cocaine and heroin were imported from Haiti, Mexico and the Dominican Republic and exported to the United Kingdom through John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Proceeds from the criminal activity were laundered through a variety of real estate transactions, many of which involved wire fraud, mortgage fraud and straw purchases of homes by co-conspirators. The investigation revealed that many of the properties went into foreclosure resulting in substantial loss to financial institutions.

"These significant prison sentences show that serious consequences await those who are motivated by greed, ignore our nation's drug laws and further commit crimes against our country's financial and mortgage systems," said James T. Hayes, Jr., special agent in charge of HSI in New York. "HSI is determined to not only combat international narcotics trafficking, but to keep drugs out of our communities and away from our children."

This investigation, dubbed "Operation Property Cash," is an Organized crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case. These cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Tuchmann from the Eastern District of New York.