- (Reuters/Gael Gonzalez)
A prominent attorney in Texas was charged with laundering hundreds of millions of dollars for a powerful Mexican drug cartel.
Marco Delgado, a lawyer with a practice in El Paso, is accused of laundering more than $600 million for the Milenio cartel, which is based in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Delgado, 46, was arrested on Nov. 2 and was in court Thursday to answer federal charges related after sources close with the investigation revealed that Delgado had been under investigation for several years.
"Delgado is linked to a drug cartel based in Guadalajara, Mexico, and accused of conspiring to launder more than $600 million," officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security said in a statement.
If Delgado is convicted, he faces a maximum 20 year prison sentence, federal authorities said.
Investigators revealed that they were first tipped off to suspicious activity after Delgado was found to be depositing similar, large amounts of money that had been withdrawn from Mexican banks.
Records released by the Texas Bar Association indicated that Delgado has been practicing law in the state of Texas for 16 years. He was also a graduate of Texas Tech University's Law School and does not have any previous disciplinary discrepancies with the Texas bar.
According to his firm's website, Delgado & Associates, P.C. specializes in international business with extensive knowledge and experience specifically in the area of public finance, banking, real estate and structured finance.
"You know, he is a brother (fellow) attorney and I'm honored to represent him and we'll go from there," Jose Montes, who represents Delgado, told KFOX.
The charges levied against Delgado coincide with a government crackdown on international and domestic banks that are suspected of accepting laundered money from cartels and other terrorist organizations.
Numerous large banks including HSBC, Citigroup and Standard Chartered, have been the subject of federal investigations for some time for allegedly accepting millions of dollars from drug traffickers, terrorists or sanctioned countries, according to reports from The Washington Post.