The wife of a Gulf Cartel boss, her sister and another woman pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiring to launder more than $800,000.
Jessenia Flores-Salinas, Julia Judith Flores-Salinas and Alyssa Giselle Vera have all reached plea agreements with federal prosecutors.
Jessenia is married to Hugo Armando “La Cabra” Cortinas-Salinas, who is the alleged boss of Miguel Aleman’s Gulf Cartel.
Federal authorities arrested Jessenie and her sister Julia on December 2, 2021 in Rome during a joint operation between Border Patrol and the Starr County Sheriff’s Office that resulted in the seizure of $809,980 from a residence at 879 Austin Rd.
During the operation, authorities saw Jessenia arrive with a young man before being greeted by a man resembling Cortinas-Salinas.
It remains unclear whether Cortinas-Salinas has ever been detained and social media posts from accounts spreading information about the drug cartel as recently as August allege he is active in cartel business in Tamaulipas. .
As for the Roma residence, a search carried out by the authorities revealed money in shoeboxes, backpacks and inside hidden compartments of an entertainment center.
During an interview, Julia told officers that the money belonged to her sister and that the change was from drug proceeds. She also told them that Jessenia was married to Cortinas-Salinas.
She also claimed to have helped Jessenia count the money and a video found on her cellphone later showed her counting stacks of cash.
Officers focused on the residence after catching Vera smuggling $9,230 undeclared from Mexico through the Roma port of entry on October 22, 2021.
She claimed she was bringing the money to Jessenia’s residence. She also said she had smuggled around $50,000 on a previous occasion and that the money was the proceeds of human trafficking.
Federal court filings indicate that the three women reached plea agreements with the government, but at press time, only the plea agreements for Jessenia and Alyssa were available in federal court filings.
The documents are identical and the same agreement was probably extended to Julia.
In exchange for pleading guilty to conspiracy to launder money, prosecutors agreed to dismiss three additional counts of money laundering against Jessenia and one count of money laundering against Vera.
Both Jessenia and Julia faced the three additional counts while Vera only faced one.
Prosecutors also agreed to recommend a downward swerve at sentencing if all three women demonstrate a clear acceptance of responsibility.
The government is also set to seize the four-bedroom residence at 879 Austin Road and land in the Rivera housing estate on Daisy Street in Roma for $819,210.
The trio are due to be sentenced on December 16.