MIL-OSI Security: Twenty-Four Defendants, Including a Utah Business Owner, Accused of Running a Drug and Money Laundering Operation From Utah to Mexico and Honduras

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Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (c)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Today, a federal magistrate judge ordered the last of 23 individual defendants in a large scale drug trafficking and money laundering case detained. The total of defendants now in custody is 22 out of 23 individuals who were charged in a superseding indictment with 33 federal crimes, including laundering millions of dollars via wire transfers from Utah to Mexico and Honduras. A financial intuition is also charged in the indictment. 

According to court documents, Georgina Espinoza-Grajeda, 40, of Eagle Mountain, Utah, who is the owner and operator of Multiservicios Lokos LLC, located in South Salt Lake City, Utah, along with her employee Jesid Dadiana De Sutter, 50, of Sandy, Utah, were at the center of a complex conspiracy to secretly and illegally wire millions of dollars in proceeds of narcotics trafficking to suppliers in Mexico and Honduras. Espinoza and De Sutter laundered the money by falsifying wire transfer information to avoid detection. Multiservicios Lokos LLC was allegedly the laundering hub for multiple drug trafficking organizations. Court documents allege that from at least January 2022 to November 2023, Espinoza-Grajeda and De Sutter operated their money remitting business and laundered millions of dollars in drug proceeds deposited by their co-defendants trafficking in fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine throughout the Wasatch Front. Through a collaborative law enforcement effort, agents and officers seized 62,000 fentanyl pills, 24.5 pounds of heroin, 8.5 pounds of cocaine, five firearms, and $237,000 in cash. Agents and officers estimate the criminal organization laundered more than $20 million since January 2022. 

Espinoza-Grajeda and De Sutter are charged with conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to structure transactions to evade reporting requirements, conspiracy to evade suspicious activity reporting and anti-money laundering requirements. Their initial court appearance on the indictment, along with many of their co-defendants, was in November 2023, where the court ordered all except one defendant to remain in custody pending trial. A superseding indictment was filed on Dec. 6, 2023.

Two more defendants, Henrry Arita Lozano and Frances Dalyana Power-Escobar were arrested in Washington and brought to Utah. Lozano appeared at his arraignment January 5, 2024, and Power-Escobar appeared at her arraignment January 8, 2024. Lozano and Power-Escobar were both ordered to remain in custody. A jury trial is scheduled for April 16, 2024. 

United States Attorney Trina A. Higgins, of the District of Utah, and law enforcement partners made the announcement. 

The case is being investigated jointly by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), FBI Salt Lake City Field Office, FBI Special Operations Group (FBI- SOG), IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Removal Operations (ICE-ERO), United States Marshals Service, Adult Parole and Probation, Park City Police Department, Davis County Metro Narcotics Strike Force, Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, American Fork Police Department, Salt Lake City Police Department, Sandy Police Department, South Jordan Police Department, South Salt Lake Police Department, South Salt Lake Business License Department, West Jordan Police Department, West Valley Police Department, Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake, and the Utah State Bureau of Investigations (SBI).

Special Assistant United States Attorney Ryan N. Holtan, of the District of Utah is prosecuting the case.

Remaining defendants named in the indictment: (Name, age, citizenship, last city of residence)

 Guadalupe Aracely Vargas Ruelas  24, Mexico, West Valley City, UT
 Multiservicios Lokos LLC  South Salt Lake City, UT
 Rodrigo Andres Droguett-Almendra   26, Chile, Orem, UT
 Erik Rojas-Moreno  18, Mexico, SLC, UT
 Fredis Omar Archaga-Ponce  41, Honduras, Sandy, UT
 Santos Reynerio Lemuz-Ortega  37, Honduras, Sandy, UT
 Ever Nohe Murillo-Raudales  34, Mexico, Cottonwood Heights, UT
 Jose Nixon Escoto-Ortez   44, Honduras, West Jordan, UT
 Vicente Ortez-Zuniga   42, Honduras, West Jordan, UT
 Wilmer Arnoldo Romero-Soto    45, Honduras, West Valley, UT
 Rigo Adolfo Melendez-Martinez   43, Honduras, West Valley, UT
 Cristian Antonio Valle-Acosta  22, Honduras, West Valley, UT
 Yahir Acosta-Melendez   20, Honduras, West Valley City, UT
 Isaac Antonio Arteaga-Acosta  39, Honduras, Midvale, UT
 Edilberto Melendez-Ponce   37, Honduras, SLC, UT
 Henry Arita-Lozano   34, Honduras, Midvale, UT
 Frances, Dalyana Power-Escobar  31, Honduras, Midvale, UT
 Kevin Ariel Ruiz-Aguilar   34, Honduras, Riverton, UT
 Milton Ivan Acosta Hernandez  37, Honduras, Sandy, UT
 Miguel Fierro      48, Mexico, West Jordan, UT
 Sandy Contreras Espinoza  32, Honduras, West Jordan, UT
 Cristian Escobar-Gomez   27, Mexico, West Valley, UT

 The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

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