​Two Denver-area Mexican restaurants tied to drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s money-laundering enterprise, federal suit says

Article subtitle: 
​Federal prosecutors filed forfeiture lawsuit against accounts in Colorado, Wyoming
Article author: 
​Kirk Mitchell
Article publisher: 
Denver Post
Article date: 
1 March 2019
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 

​Federal prosecutors allege two Denver-area Mexican restaurants are linked to a vast money-laundering operation with ties to recently convicted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico, court records indicate.

Owners of two Taco Star restaurants in Commerce City and Thornton allegedly helped launder drug proceeds to a Colorado Springs food distributing company, El Potosino Foods, located at 3518 N. El Paso St., and then to Mexican drug cartels, federal court records say...

The lawsuit says that the money was collected through illegal narcotics sales and laundered through a dozen Mexican restaurants throughout the Denver area, Greeley, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyo.

Independent Mexican restaurant owners in Colorado and Wyoming would contract to buy beef through El Potosino Foods, which in turn had business ties to Guzman and Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael Zambada-Garcia, the lawsuit says...

Narcotics traffickers give drug money to independent “front companies” like cigarette distributors, liquor or retail stores or restaurants, often in large bundles of $100 bills in multi-thousand-dollar increments, the lawsuit says.

One of the advantages to front companies is that they can deduct the amount they paid for phantom beef with drug money as business expenses to reduce their taxes...