Cartel-linked drug trafficker who operated suburban warehouses gets 30-year sentence
An international drug trafficker who operated out of warehouses in Arlington Heights, Naperville, Plainfield and other locations has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, authorities announced Monday.
Luis Eduardo Gonzalez Garcia, 55, worked with Mexican drug cartels to purchase and transport thousands of kilograms of cocaine to Chicago and other parts the U.S., while also laundering of more than $50 million in narcotics proceeds, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois.
"By successfully laundering tens of millions of drug proceeds back down to himself and his cartel partners in Mexico, (Gonzalez Garcia) not only undoubtedly enriched himself but also enriched the Mexican drug cartels -- some of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the world," Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean J.B. Franzblau argued in the government's sentencing memorandum.
Federal prosecutors say Gonzalez Garcia, of Monterrey, Mexico, established a sophisticated network of warehouses and front companies posing as legitimate businesses. Besides Naperville, Arlington Heights and Plainfield, he operated warehouses in Chicago, Texas and Georgia, officials said.
At Gonzalez Garcia's direction, the warehouse operators set up front companies and registered them with local governments as if they were legitimate businesses, authorities alleged. The companies, which claimed to sell furniture, snack food, laundry detergent, or other items, even had websites and hired employees to conceal the drug trafficking, prosecutors said.
The drugs and cash were primarily concealed in box pallets containing the types of goods the front companies purported to sell and then transported from Mexico on semitrailer trucks driven by unwitting drivers. A "dirty" pallet in a typical shipment could contain up to 100 kilograms of cocaine or up to $1.5 million in cash, authorities said
Gonzalez Garcia pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal drug conspiracy and money laundering charges. In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman fined Gonzalez Garcia $1.5 million.