Five members of a Dominican drug ring used a Hyde Park restaurant and a Dorchester bodega to conduct their fentanyl and cocaine business, the proceeds of which they funneled back to their Mexican suppliers and people in the Dominican Republic through a pair of Chinese money launderers, federal officials charged in a complaint made public today.
In an affidavit, a DEA agent alleged that Cesar Alejandro Castro of Milton had organized an operation that would buy cocaine and fentanyl from a cartel in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, which his operatives would then sell to other dealers across New England. The affidavit adds agents believe Castro's business had grown to the point where he was helping the Sinaloan cartel launder money from other drug operations in New England.
Based on intercepted calls, physical and electronic surveillance, toll records, and seizures, investigators believe that CASTRO continues to receive multi-kilogram quantities of drugs, which he then uses his couriers to redistribute to other traffickers connected to the Sinaloa [drug-trafficking organization]. The investigation has also revealed that CASTRO is collecting substantial amounts of drug proceeds from numerous drug traffickers throughout the Northeast to be laundered on behalf of the Sinaloa DTO, many of whom are not believed to be CASTRO's own customers, but rather other drug cell leaders who are supplied by the Sinaloa DTO.
Agents began investigating the ring in October, 2019, after seizing shipments of some 37 pounds of fentanyl and nearly 51 pounds of cocaine shipped from Sinaloa to a Boston-area address, according to the affidavit.
More charges and arrests could be coming. Castro and the six other people were only formally charged today with conspiracy to commit money laundering, The affidavit names a number of people who were not charged today on the drug side and says the two people arrested on the money-laundering side, "work for Asian money laundering organizations that launder drug proceeds for the Sinaloa [drug outfit]."
Castro, the affidavit states, would sometimes spend hours a day at Rincon Caribeno, a Dominican restaurant in neighboring Hyde Park, where a person described as his "paramour" worked and where he allegedly did a lot of his business:
Throughout this investigation, CASTRO has gone to Target Location #5 on a near daily basis, and he spends hours there at a time. Investigators have seen CASTRO enter the location numerous times.
The affidavit continues that the ring also used La Bamba, a bodega at Lorne at Harvard streets in Dorchester, to exchange drugs for cash - and then sometimes hand over the money to runners for the money launderers.
On numerous times during this investigation, CASTRO has directed drug customers, including [Saturnino] Guerrero [also charged], to Target Location #4 to conduct drug sales. CASTRO has also directed customers and money launderers to Target Location #4 to either pickup or deliver money.
In contrast to the drug ring, whose members would travel across the region, even to Haverhill, to conduct business, money launderers Songfeng Chen of Quincy and Chi Ying of Malden - whom the affidavit says is a college student - tended to be more homebodies, refusing to travel to Dorchester to meet Castro or his affiliates. Ying did make an exception, however, to launder some cash through an innocent third party - Saks Fifth Avenue in the Back Bay:
During a period between March and April 2019, YING conducted a series of nine separate cash payments totaling $28,546 that he conducted in-store at Saks Fifth Avenue in Boston. These cash payments applied to YING's Saks Fifth Avenue credit card account were then followed by several merchandise returns, which ultimately resulted in YING having a credit balance in excess of $21,000. The credit balance was then refunded to YING via a manual check issued by Capital One, the issuing financial institution of the Saks Fifth Avenue retail credit card, which YING deposited into his Bank of America account. By making the excessive cash payments to Saks, and forcing a large credit balance via returns, YING was effectively able to utilize Saks Fifth Avenue to convert, and thereby conceal, the cash activity from YING's primary banking relationship with Bank of America.
The affidavit suggests the agents or did a really good job impersonating money launderers as they followed the Castro gang: On several occasions, drug-ring members handed over money - some $425,000 in total - to undercover agents posting as money launderers. Gang members also seemed unaware that the reason they were stopped by local or State Police was at the direction of the DEA investigators.
At one point, after one member began complaining in a phone conversation intercepted by agents about how his car, which had $200,000 in a hidden spot, had been stolen, the person he was complaining to suggested that in the future he check the cars for GPS devices to make sure a rival drug gang wasn't tracking him. In fact, the DEA placed GPS devices on cars to track the gang members.
The affidavit also describes a business where customers sometimes returned shoddy merchandise. The affidavit quotes from a phone call Castro allegedly had with one of his dealer customers on Feb. 25 of this year, in which the customer complained his most recent shipment sucked and Castro agreed to send him replacement drugs, if he could wait until the next day - and asked him to report back on the quality of the new drugs.