MICHIGAN – The leader of a Sinaloan drug trafficking organization pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute over 1000 kilograms of marijuana and conspiring to import more than five kilograms of cocaine and 1000 kilograms of marijuana.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider of the Eastern District of Michigan and Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the announcement.
Marco Antonio Paredes-Machado, 55, was indicted with 25 others in Detroit, Michigan, in 2005 for conspiring to distribute more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana. According to the indictment, Paredes-Machado led a drug trafficking organization in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, that was responsible for the distribution of 40 tons of marijuana.
In 2012, Paredes-Machado was indicted in Washington, D.C., by the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Department of Justice. According to that indictment, Paredes-Machado conspired to import more than five kilograms of cocaine and 1000 kilograms of marijuana into the United States.
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Paredes-Machado agreed to plead guilty in the Eastern District of Michigan to charges in both the Michigan and DC cases. As a part of his DC plea conduct, Paredes-Machado acknowledged that he had directed a drug conspiracy from Mexico for more than 10 years, beginning in the 1990s. Paredes-Machado worked in a criminal organization that was headed by Benjamin Jaramillo-Felix. This organization was affiliated with the Sinaloa Cartel and was dedicated to the illegal trafficking of narcotics from Colombia, through Central America and Mexico, and then into the United States.
Paredes-Machado invested in shipments of cocaine and had a direct role overseeing the transportation of tonnage quantities of cocaine in Los Cabos, Mexico. Paredes-Machado directed a team of 20 to 30 men that would receive cocaine from other co-conspirators in Los Cabos, a city in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. From Los Cabos, Paredes-Machado and others would transport the cocaine by boat or airplane to various locations in Mexico, which were controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel including Culiacan, Sinaloa, and Navajoa, Sonora.
Paredes-Machado was also responsible for collecting payments for both the purchase of drugs from drug shipment investors and receiving proceeds from the eventual sale of narcotics. These transactions typically involved tens of millions of United States dollars. Paredes-Machado transferred these funds to others within the Organization.
Paredes-Machado was also in charge of the United States and Mexican border area in Agua Prieta, a town in the Mexican state of Sonora and on behalf of the criminal organization supervised the importation of controlled substances there including tonnage quantities of marijuana.
As part of the Michigan drug conduct Paredes-Machado acknowledged that supplied an extensive marijuana criminal conspiracy where he directed others to export marijuana from Mexico to the United States and distribute it in Detroit, Michigan and throughout the United States in loads weighing more than 100 kilograms.
Paredes-Machado knew that more than 450 kilograms cocaine and more than 90,000 kilograms of marijuana would be illegally imported into the United States for further distribution.
According to court records, Mexican authorities arrested Paredes-Machado in 2011. He was extradited to the United States and first appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in 2015. A sentencing date has been scheduled for Feb. 5, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts.
The DEA’s Detroit Field office is leading the investigation. Trial Attorney Jason Ruiz of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Wininger of the Eastern District of Michigan are prosecuting the case.