Last person sentenced in federal drug scheme that laundered $44 million from Columbus to Mexico

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(Photo by ANDREAS ARNOLD/AFP via Getty Images)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Authorities say the last of eight defendants in a $44 million money-laundering case that led from Columbus to Mexico has been sentenced.

Chief U.S. Disrict Judge Algenon L. Marbley sentenced Rodrigo Esqueda-Vazquez, 34, on Friday to 180 months in prison.

Court documents showed that the defendants conspired to distribute heroin, fentanyl and marijuana, and commit large-scale money laundering from approximately 2013 to 2019.

The other defendants who were sentenced previously are:

  • Jose Luis Rosales-Ocampo, 144 months
  • Thania Rosales-Guadarrama, 84 months
  • Josue Gama-Perez, 72 months
  • Dulce Rosales-Guadarrama, 87 months
  • Eliezar Mendoza-Nava, 216 months
  • Julio Angel Gonzalez, 120 months
  • Rodolfo Franco-Valdez, 60 months

Authorities say 57-year old Jose Luis Rosales-Ocampo of Columbus and his family ran fake cell phone stores that were really fronts for drug traffickers to send large amounts of money from Columbus to Mexico. The stores included Los Rosales on Shady Lane Road, Los Rosales 2 on East Main Street, and Express Cellular on Eastland Square Drive.

Drug dealers would drop large amounts of narcotics money at the stores, and the store owners would transfer the funds to Mexico, according to the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. Over an approximately six-year period, thousands of illicit wire transfers were completed, according to officials.

In addition to the eight federal convictions, 35 defendants were prosecuted in Franklin County. Officials say the investigation seized approximately 34 kilograms of heroin, 516 grams of cocaine, 76 grams of fentanyl, and 250 pounds of marijuana. Additionally, investigators seized $458,500 in U.S. currency.

Local and federal officers spent years investigating the drug traffickers that ultimately brought down the money-laundering ring, according to officials.

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