United States Unseals Superseding Indictment Charging Nationwide Money Laundering Network

The Justice Department today announced the unsealing of a superseding indictment charging six individuals with participating in a conspiracy to launder millions of dollars of drug proceeds on behalf of foreign cartels.  This superseding indictment is the result of a nearly four-year investigation into the relationship between foreign drug trafficking organizations and Asian money laundering networks in the United States, China, and elsewhere.

“The U.S. Department of Justice is committed to disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations that distribute contraband, launder illicit proceeds, and attempt to corrupt our society,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt for the Criminal Division.  “I would like to recognize the extraordinary efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and our federal law enforcement partners for taking down a criminal organization that laundered drug proceeds for the Mexican cartels.  Drug traffickers and money launderers operate globally, but this investigation demonstrates that they will be brought to justice wherever they are found.”

“The successful work in uncovering and halting this scheme is due to years of collaboration and cooperation by multiple Department of Justice units and our law enforcement partners who are all committed to combating transnational criminal organizations,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.  “We would not have been able to achieve this result without our investigative partners and agencies around the world helping contribute to this case.  My thanks to all of you for your continued commitment to this important work.”

“These individuals went to great lengths to conceal their alleged criminal activities and further schemes that enabled drug cartels to push their poisons on our communities and launder their illicit proceeds,” said Wendy Woolcock, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Operations Division.  “Despite these efforts, they could not evade detection by U.S. law enforcement. DEA, along with our partners, will continue to arrest and bring to justice transnational criminals like these, who facilitate and profit from the vicious global drug trade.”

“The defendants in this case are alleged to have gone to great lengths to carry out their sophisticated money laundering conspiracy,” said James M. Gibbons, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago. “HSI will continue to collaborate with our partner agencies to disrupt the flow of narcotics into the country that is facilitated through the laundering of funds out of the U.S.”

“This is a perfect illustration of DSS’ global reach and our ability to partner with U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies on complex international, multi-jurisdictional cases,” said Jeffrey A. Thomas, Deputy Assistant Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Investigations Division. “DSS and our counterparts are conducting investigations like these on a daily basis around the world.”

According to the superseding indictment, Xizhi Li, Jianxing Chen, Jiayu Chen, Eric Yong Woo, Jingyuan Li, Tao Liu, and others participated in a years’ long conspiracy to use casinos, front companies, foreign and domestic bank accounts, and bulk cash smuggling to launder money on behalf of drug trafficking organizations.

The superseding indictment also alleges that Tao Liu planned to bribe a U.S. Department of State official using wire transfers and cryptocurrency to create U.S. passports that he and his associates would use to enter the United States and engage in additional crimes, including money laundering.  In fact, this State Department official was an undercover law enforcement agent, and these allegations stem from a seven-month undercover investigation.

Below is information related to each defendant charged in the superseding indictment:

Name, Age

Charges

Xizhi Li, 45

Counts 1-3 (drug trafficking and money laundering)

Jianxing Chen, 40

Counts 1-3 (drug trafficking and money laundering)

Jiayu Chen, 46

Counts 1-3 (drug trafficking and money laundering)

Eric Yong Woo, 43

Counts 3 (money laundering)

Jingyuan Li, 47

Counts 1-3 (drug trafficking and money laundering)

Tao Liu, 45

Counts 1-14 (drug trafficking, money laundering, attempted identity fraud, and bribery)

Five of the six defendants are in custody, Jianxing Chen is a fugitive.

Xizhi Li, Jiaxing Chen, Jiayu Chen, Jingyuan Li, and Tao Liu are all charged with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine knowing and intending that it will be unlawfully imported into the United States.  If convicted, these defendants faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Xizhi Li, Jiaxing Chen, Jiayu Chen, Jingyuan Li, Eric Yong Woo, and Tao Liu are also charged with conspiracy to launder money. If convicted of this offense, the defendants will face a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.

Additionally, Tao Liu is charged with four counts of attempted identity fraud, four counts of bribery, one count of conspiracy to launder money, and two counts of international promotional money laundering.  If convicted of attempted identity fraud and/or bribery, he faces up to 15 years’ imprisonment per count.  If convicted of money laundering, he faces up to 20 years’ of imprisonment per count.

The case was investigated as part of two Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Wendy C. Woolcock, Special Agent in Charge for the DEA Special Operations Division; J. Todd Scott, Special Agent in Charge for the DEA-Louisville; Raymond P. Donovan, Special Agent in Charge for the DEA-New York; Jessica Moore, Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division of the U.S. Department of State’s DSS; and James M. Gibbons, Special Agent in Charge of HSI made the announcement.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys David A. Peters and Michael P. Ben’Ary, along with Trial Attorneys Kerry Blackburn, Mary Daly, and Stephen A. Sola of the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, are prosecuting the case.

Significant assistance was provided by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australian Federal Police, the Mexican Federal Police, Australia Department of Home Affairs, the Guatemalan National Civil Police (PNC), and the New Zealand Police.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:19-cr-334.

An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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    “The Department of Justice has completed its review of the 29 FISA applications that were the subject of preliminary findings by the DOJ Inspector General (OIG) in March 2020.  We are pleased that our review of these applications concluded that all contained sufficient basis for probable cause and uncovered only two material errors, neither of which invalidated the authorizations granted by the FISA Court.   These findings, together with the more than 40 corrective actions undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Division, should instill confidence in the FBI’s use of FISA authorities.  We would like to express our appreciation to the OIG for their focus on the Department’s use of its national security authority.  We remain committed to improving the FISA process to ensure that we use these tools consistent with the law and our obligations to the FISA Court.  The ability to surveil and to investigate using FISA authorities remains critical to confronting current national security threats, including election interference, Chinese espionage and terrorism.”      
    [Read More…]
  • United States Takes Action To Counter Iranian Support for al-Qa’ida
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Cuba Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to Cuba [Read More…]
  • Owner of Tax Preparation Business Sentenced to Prison for Filing False Returns
    In Crime News
    A former Gulfport, Mississippi, tax return preparer was sentenced to 46 months in prison today for aiding and assisting in the preparation of false returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst for the Southern District of Mississippi.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Virtual Meeting with Japanese Women Entrepreneurs
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Kevin M. Epstein Appointed as U.S. Trustee for the Southern and Western Districts of Texas
    In Crime News
    Attorney General William P. Barr has appointed Kevin M. Epstein as the U.S. Trustee for the Southern and Western Districts of Texas (Region 7) effective Jan. 1, 2021, the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees (EOUST) announced today.
    [Read More…]
  • Two Senior Managers in Italy Charged with Conspiracy to Cheat U.S. Emissions Tests and Defraud U.S. Consumers
    In Crime News
    An indictment was unsealed today in the Eastern District of Michigan charging two Italian nationals, along with a previously charged co-conspirator, for their alleged role in a conspiracy to defraud U.S. regulators and customers by making false and misleading statements about the emissions controls and fuel efficiency of more than 100,000 diesel vehicles sold in the United States by FCA US LLC.
    [Read More…]
  • Finland Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • PRC Military Pressure Against Taiwan Threatens Regional Peace and Stability
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Lao People’s Democratic Republic National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • The U.S. Reaches $1.5 Billion Settlement with Daimler AG Over Emissions Cheating in Mercedes-Benz Diesel Vehicles
    In Crime News
    The U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced today a proposed settlement with German automaker Daimler AG and its American subsidiary Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (collectively, “Daimler”) resolving alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and California law associated with emissions cheating. 
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  • On the UN Human Rights Council’s Embrace of Authoritarian Regimes
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Man Charged with $1.9 Million COVID-Relief Fraud
    In Crime News
    A Nevada man was charged in an indictment Wednesday for his alleged participation in a scheme to defraud multiple financial institutions by filing bank loan applications that fraudulently sought more than $1.9 million dollars in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Manhattan Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Attempting to Provide Material Support to Terrorist Organization
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that Jesus Wilfredo Encarnacion, a/k/a “Jihadistsoldgier,” “Jihadinhear,” “Jihadinheart,” “Lionofthegood,” was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based designated foreign terrorist organization responsible for multiple high-profile attacks, including the infamous Mumbai attacks in November 2008.  In addition, Encarnacion was sentenced to a lifetime term of supervised release.  Encarnacion pleaded guilty on Jan. 22, 2020, before United States District Judge Ronnie Abrams, who also imposed today’s sentence.
    [Read More…]
  • Pennsylvania Marketer Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Returns
    In Crime News
    A Bryn Mawr resident pleaded guilty today to filing false tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Illinois Tax Return Preparer
    In Crime News
    The United States has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois seeking to bar a Rockford area tax return preparer from preparing federal income tax returns for others.
    [Read More…]
  • Readout of The Department of Justice’s Efforts to Combat Hate Crimes Against Asian American and Pacific Island Communities
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today held a listening session with more than a dozen Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community groups as part of its continuing efforts to deter hate crimes and other unlawful acts against the AAPI community.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Australian Foreign Minister Payne
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Former CEO Charged in Schemes to Defraud U.S. Government Related to the Conflict in Afghanistan
    In Crime News
    The former chief executive officer of a U.S. government contractor was charged today in connection with schemes to defraud the U.S. Department of Defense regarding contracts related to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
    [Read More…]
  • Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice Releases Final Report
    In Crime News
    Today, following months of virtual meetings, testimony and study, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr submitted the final report of the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice to the White House.  This report represents the first comprehensive study of law enforcement in more than 55 years.
    [Read More…]