CHICAGO (CBS) — A man was sentenced to 14 years in prison Tuesday for having drug proceeds picked up in Chicago and laundering them through China to have them sent to drug traffickers in Mexico.

Prosecutors said Xianbing Gan schemed in 2018 to have about $534,206 in narcotics proceeds picked up in Chicago and then transferred to various bank accounts in China – with the money ultimately intended for the drug traffickers in Mexico.

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Unbeknownst to Gan, an undercover law enforcement agent was posing as the money courier who picked up the drug proceeds in Chicago.

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Gan, 51, is a Chinese national who facilitated the transfers while living in Guadalajara, Mexico, prosecutors said. He was arrested in November 2018 at Los Angeles International Airport during a layover on a flight between Hong Kong and Mexico and has been in U.S. custody ever since.

Gan was convicted on three counts of money laundering, and one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, by a federal jury last year. U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin sentenced him on Tuessday.

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“The defendant was part of a recent phenomenon in which a relatively small network of Chinese money brokers based in Mexico have come to dominate international money laundering markets,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean J.B. Franzblau and Richard M. Rothblatt argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum, as quoted in a news release. “Like defendant, many of these brokers are also engaged in legitimate business, and use that business as cover for and to further money laundering activity. It does not matter that defendant never personally distributed narcotics – drug distribution and money laundering are two-sides of the same malignant coin.”

CBS 2 Chicago Staff