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Former Virginia store owner sentenced for money laundering

February 11, 2021 GMT

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — A former Virginia store owner was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for her part in a money laundering operation involving an international drug cartel, a federal prosecutor said.

Ana Bella Sanchez-Rios, 48, was sentenced last week for moving more than $4.3 million from her Martinsville store for the Mexican-based Jalisco New Generation Cartel, Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Bubar said in a news release. The U.S. Department of Justice considers the cartel to be among the most dangerous organizations in the world, the news release said.

According to the news release on Wednesday, Sanchez-Rios admitted in court documents that from May 2016 through September 2018 she used her business to launder the drug trafficking proceeds on behalf of CJNG. Her role was to receive U.S. currency from people working for CJNG, which she was aware was drug-trafficking proceeds gained through criminal activity, according to the news release. Sanchez-Rios also admitted wiring money to Mexico in small amounts using fake names and addresses as senders.

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Sanchez-Rios and 12 members of the cartel were indicted in March 2019, the news release said. She pleaded guilty in June 2020 to conspiracy to commit money laundering and operating a business that transmitted criminally derived funds.