“107 papers” – Plea agreements detail how $382K in Lexington drug proceeds were laundered

Lexington, Ky.–Plea agreements were filed in the United States District Court’s Eastern District of Kentucky this month for a group of Lexington cocaine traffickers. The pleas reveal new details of a sophisticated drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating in the Greater Lexington Area.

According to court documents, the DEA’s Lexington office introduced undercover agents into the ring’s money laundering operation in February 2021. The agents were able to accept contracts from brokers in Mexico to pick up drug proceeds in the United States. On February 25, 2021, DEA Lexington received a contract from a broker in Mexico to pick up drug proceeds in Lexington. The broker requested the undercover agent provide a serial number for a one-dollar bill to be used as code during the money pick-up.

Later that day, the undercover agent received a text from one of the defendants to arrange a meeting to deliver “107 papers,” code for $107,000 of drug proceeds. They exchanged phone calls and texts with the agent, believing he was a courier for the larger drug trafficking organization.

On February 26, the next day, two of the defendants arrived at the meet spot, the Hamburg Wal Mart on Grey Lag Way, in a red Chrysler 300. After confirming the serial number of the dollar bill, they placed a bag in the backseat of the agent’s vehicle. That bag contained $106,020 in cash.

Agents placed the currency in an undercover account and transferred it to a Bitcoin wallet address provided by the broker. They continued to monitor the defendants and received judicial authorization to attach a GPS tracking device to the red Chrysler 300.

In May 2021, DEA agents tracked the GPS on the Chrysler 300 to Ohio. On the way back, the vehicle was stopped by Kentucky State Police. A narcotics K-9 alerted on the vehicle and a search of the car yielded $76,130 cash. Both defendants said they didn’t have any knowledge of the money at the time, but later admitted it was drug proceeds in their plea agreements.

In July 2021, at least one of the defendants sold a kilogram of cocaine to a lower level drug dealer. The man who bought the kilo was stopped by KSP in Fayette County and arrested after a K-9 alerted on his car and a search yielded the cocaine.

The investigation continued through June 2022, when five federal indictments were issued. Not all details of the investigation have been made public, but according to the November plea agreements, a total of $382,130 in drug proceeds was seized in the investigation. Because the defendants had been caught selling the kilo of cocaine, they admitted their was enough evidence to convict them of conspiracy to distribute approximately 10.6 kilos of cocaine, based on the government’s stated price of $36,000 per kilo in the Eastern District of Kentucky.

All defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in early 2023.