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Several Chinese Nationals Charged With Money Laundering For Drug Cartels

U.S. Department of Justice press release...


WASHINGTON D.C. - 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.


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 . 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:


  • 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.