Woman pleads guilty to laundering money in heroin trafficking operation


Date: June 2, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

A woman illegally residing in the United States pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court for her involvement in a large-scale heroin trafficking operation.

Sonia Hernandez pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy. From January 2018 until June 2019, Hernandez knowingly sent drug proceeds to a Mexican source of supply while working at a Tulsa money remitter business. She admitted to using nominee names during the transactions in order to conceal her criminal acts and to further the drug conspiracy. A "nominee name" is used to hide the true recipient of illicit money. Hernandez will be responsible for laundering drug proceeds for not less than 10 kilograms and nor more than 30 kilograms of heroin.

Hernandez was one of more than 30 individuals charged with money laundering, drug conspiracy and other crimes. The initial indictment was first announced in May 2019. The investigation involved the Giovanni Drug Trafficking Organization and was given the name Operation Smack Dragon.

U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan scheduled set sentencing for Sept. 8, 2020.

The Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Department of Treasury, the Oklahoma State Attorney General's Office, and Tulsa Police Department conducted this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel-lyn McCormick prosecuted the case. AUSA McCormick is the Lead Attorney for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit for the Northern District of Oklahoma.