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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Inside the Sinaloa Cartel's 'Fentanyl for Cell Phones' Money Laundering Network

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

US Department of the Treasury’s OFAC sanctioned operatives in a Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE) scheme to launder millions in illicit fentanyl proceeds for the Sinaloa Cartel. OFAC designated 15 Sinaloa Cartel members, and 6 Mexico-based businesses.

“The Biden Administration will continue to use every tool at our disposal to target the violent drug cartels that profit from deadly fentanyl sales in our country,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “Using Treasury’s unique authorities to disrupt illicit fentanyl networks, particularly in coordination with our law enforcement partners, are among Secretary Yellen and the Department’s top priorities.”

Deputy Secretary Adeyemo announced the sanctions during a trip to Arizona, where he was meeting with federal, state, and local law enforcement, government officials, and private sector counterparts to reinforce Treasury’s partnerships in the fight against illicit fentanyl. 

These sanctions supplement efforts by Treasury’s Counter-Fentanyl Strike Force, which leverages Treasury’s unique expertise and capabilities to interdict and disrupt the illicit financial networks upon which the cartels rely.

Fentanyl for Cell Phones

OFAC sanctioned Mexico-based cell phone business, Smart Depot, and several people related to the business, including the Marin Brothers, Arturo D’Artagnan Marin Gonzalez and Porthos Marin Gonzalez (Porthos Marin), who are responsible for operating a BMPE scheme for the Sinaloa Cartel. 

In coordination with Sinaloa Cartel fentanyl suppliers, the Marin brothers brokered fentanyl sales in the United States and used the proceeds of the illicit sales, which were in bulk U.S. dollars, to purchase cell phones from US companies.

After the phones were transported to Mexico, they were sold in Smart Depot stores, located in Culiacan, Sinaloa; Mazatlan, Sinaloa; and Cancun, Quintana Roo, for Mexican Pesos. As Smart Depot thrived and expanded, the Sinaloa Cartel traffickers received their illicit proceeds in their national currency.

OFAC sanctioned Smart Depot, Arturo Marin, and Porthos Marin for having provided, or attempted to provide, financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, the Sinaloa Cartel.

Los Chapitos Operators

OFAC’s action also sanctioned fentanyl suppliers, Rolando Verduzco Castro and Jesus Manuel Leon Valdez “El Guero de Las Trancas”, who utilized the BMPE scheme run by the Marin brothers to launder their drug proceeds. In addition to fentanyl, Rolando Verduzco is a supplier of methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine, and he often works in coordination with Fausto Isidro Meza Flores “Chapo Isidro”. 

Jesus Leon, who was previously an enforcer for Joaquin Guzman Loera “El Chapo”, now operates at the direction of Los Chapitos' faction of the Sinaloa Cartel. Based in Las Trancas, Tamazula, Durango, Jesus Leon oversees clandestine drug labs, producing both methamphetamine and fentanyl.

In April 2023, a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York returned an indictment charging numerous Sinaloa Cartel members, including Alan Nunez and Jesus Tirado, with a variety of drug trafficking, money laundering, and weapons-related charges. To date, Alan Nunez and Jesus Tirado are fugitives. 

Through its Narcotics Rewards Program, the U.S. Department of State offers rewards of up to $1 million for information leading to the arrests and/or convictions of Alan Nunez and Jesus Tirado.

On August 4, 2022, DEA Phoenix seized approximately 1,175,000 fentanyl pills supplied by Rolando Verduzco in the Phoenix area.

Adilene Mayre Robledo Arredondo, who is the sister-in-law of Arturo Marin and Porthos Marin, as well as her brother, Ivan Yareth Robledo Arredondo, both sanctioned, were involved in brokering fentanyl deals and laundering money, as well as recruiting drug traffickers to participate in the BMPE scheme.

For example, some of the fentanyl suppliers recruited were Alan Gabriel Nunez Herrera, Adilene Robledo’s former partner, and Jesus Tirado Andrade, a clandestine laboratory operator for Los Chapitos who also smuggles weapons. 

Alan Nunez and Jesus Tirado, participated in the BMPE scheme, as proceeds from their illicit drug sales in the United States were used to purchase cell phones that were ultimately sold by Smart Depot.

Also sanctioned were 4 businesses established by Adilene Robledo and Ivan Robledo using illicit drug proceeds and Smart Depot profits. 

Based in Culiacan, Sinaloa, the businesses include:

Bufaluss and Dulce Volcan
Food Services

Royal Room Dress, and Total Look
Clothing/Formal Wear

"El Mayo" Operators

In addition to Los Chapitos, the Marin brothers also used the BMPE scheme to launder drug proceeds for Sinaloa Cartel members who report to Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia.

For example, Jesus “El 30” Norberto Larranaga Herrera, based in Culiacan, and the surrounding municipalities, such as Pueblos Unidos and Tacuichamona, participated in the BMPE scheme. Jesus Larranaga works for his father-in-law, Victor “El 20” Lizarraga Martinez, a former police officer turned high-level operator for "El Mayo."

Karla Gabriela Lizarraga Sanchez, spouse of Jesus Larranaga and daughter of Victor Lizarraga, is also involved in drug trafficking and bulk cash smuggling. In Pueblos Unidos, brothers Alexis “Wini” Vergara Meza and Edy “Carter” Vergara Meza are fentanyl suppliers working alongside Jesus Larranaga.

As suppliers of methamphetamine and fentanyl, among other drugs, Jesus Larranaga, Victor Lizarraga, Karla Lizarraga, Alexis Vergara, and Edy Vergara, all sanctioned, coordinate drug distribution throughout the United States, launder money, and smuggle bulk cash. Jesus Larranaga also uses illicit drug proceeds to purchase weapons in the United States, which are smuggled across the border to Mexico via couriers.

OFAC sanctioned Jesus Larranaga, Victor Lizarraga, Karla Lizarraga, Alexis Vergara, and Edy Vergara for having engaged in, or attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production.

Sonora Cell Phone Stores

Also sanctioned were Jorge Alejandro Garcia Velazco, a San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora-based associate of the Marin brothers, as well as his spouse, Mayra Gisel Gonzalez Cordero, and his cell phone business, Celulandia Taller & Store SLRC. 

Similar to the Marin brothers, Jorge Garcia operates a BMPE scheme to launder drug proceeds for the Sinaloa Cartel. Assisted by Mayra Gonzalez, Jorge Garcia’s scheme involves Celulandia, which has two locations in San Luis Rio Colorado.

Sources OFAC, OFAC


  1. Thsnk yoi very interesting information

  2. So else is new ..Same old stories with the government

  3. Was the inspiration to name the Marin González brothers The Three Musketeers book? LOL.

    1. @1:29
      If you're expecting anyone to catch the literary reference, you might be on the wrong site. 🥺

    2. Nope i was wondering the same, there might be a 3rd brother around.

    3. Likewise. We are a literate crew🐙

  4. Wait, Chapitos have a guy that also works for Chapo Isidro?… interesting

  5. Maybe not fighting on the field but also these people have the blood of innocents (and rivals) on their hands. But they act like they are from a class above the ‘normal’ people. Disgusting!

  6. That’s panter bélico cousin el 30/ el chito

  7. Por prensa y televisión,
    Esta noticia pasaron,
    Que en el rancho de Las Trancas,
    Se dio un golpe al contrabando,
    Laboratorio el más grande,
    Vuelven a, mentar al Chapo

    Soy El Güero De Las Trancas,
    Simplemente he trabajado,
    Si al gobierno no le gusta,
    Yo no pienso andar robando,
    Con mi gente cuido el área,
    Y al que puesto me ha dado

    1. That’s such an old corrido, it’s interesting that he just now got formerly acuses and mentioned. Still no image of him which is even more interesting

  8. They using every tool at their disposal to take down the Sinaloa cartel. That’s more like it

    1. Yeah they’re not messing around with chapitos. It was probably info from the brother that got extradited. They are definitely feeling the heat. Last person US government went after like this was Escobar. They didn’t even press Chapo like this.

  9. Danm that bitch is hideous

  10. Not gonna lie this is gonna hit the narcos where it hurts. You loose uour money you use your leverage you have with any of the governments. The United States is very serious about the fentanyl. They like to be in control of all narcotics. They went to Colombia in the 80s and now have stations there. Yet cocaine production hits new highs ever year. Because it’s controlled. Governments can’t control synthetics. They can’t keep inventory of them , they can’t control who manufactures them , nor wheee they get the precursors to make them. They can’t control anything, but to go after the people making it and grab their assets and money.

  11. Ps5 wave was good to Sinaloa 😉

  12. Just wondering why don't they just ramp up the planting and production of the Poppy? It would seem that there would be less hassle from the feds and they can continuously ramp up planting and production of heroine and opium to supplement the higher production costs of the real shit as opposed to the synthetic shit. If they produce more then they can bring costs down to compete with the sales of synthetic shit. I believe the US government would go for that instead of losing out on the profits from the sales of synthetic dope. What does everyone think about this as an alternative? I see in Europe they don't even care about heroin. They literally have shooting shackes where they have bright lights and clean gear for the addicts as well as medical staff in hand to administer narcan.

  13. Damn Chitoon is dead meat


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