LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) – Ciro Macias Martinez, a citizen of Mexico illegally residing in Georgetown was sentenced on Friday, in the U.S. District Court in Lexington, to serve 31 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Macias, 32, had previously pleaded guilty to both offenses.
In August 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration in Lexington began its investigation of Macias, and multiple other individuals, for their roles in a sophisticated drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating in Central Kentucky, which was tied to Mexican drug cartels. Macias was the local head of the organization, responsible for distributing kilogram quantities of numerous drugs, including a very pure form of methamphetamine – commonly referred to as “ice” – cocaine, and heroin.
The extensive investigation established that, in addition to distributing kilograms of the drugs, Macias was also responsible for collecting the proceeds and returning the money back to Mexico, to the larger drug trafficking organization. Macias admitted in his plea agreement that the organization used contract couriers to pick up large sums of bulk cash that constituted the drug proceeds, supporting larger criminal organization’s ongoing drug trafficking activities.
During the investigation, DEA, in conjunction with the Lexington Police Department and the Kentucky State Police, seized and forfeited approximately $1.2 million.
Macias and the larger criminal organization also laundered money through the banking system, by making deposits at multiple banks in increments less than $10,000 per transaction, commonly referred to as “structuring deposits,” attempting to avoid certain federal and state bank reporting requirements. Several other individuals pleaded guilty to their roles in the money laundering, which involved banks in Tennessee and North Carolina and deposits totaling $100,000 or more on each trip. Arlenne Sosa, 23, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in federal prison; Laura Ortiz, 23, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years; and Smirna Ortiz, 21, was convicted at trial, in July 2018, and will be sentenced on November 2, 2018. She faces up to 20 years in federal prison.