23 Utahns charged with drug trafficking, laundering millions of dollars

Posted at 7:08 PM, Jan 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-08 21:09:54-05

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah — Nearly two dozen Utah residents have been charged in federal court for their alleged roles in a massive drug trafficking and money laundering scheme.

Two people are accused of being at the center of the money laundering operation, in which the U.S. Attorney's Office said they "illegally wire[d] millions of dollars in proceeds of narcotics trafficking to suppliers in Mexico and Honduras." One was 40-year-old Georgina Espinoza-Grajeda of Eagle Mountain, the owner and operator of Multiservicios Lokos LLC in South Salt Lake. The other is 50-year-old Jesid Dadiana De Sutter of Sandy, an employee.

According to the feds, Espinoza-Grajeda and De Sutter are believed to have laundered more than $20 million between January 2022 and November 2023 via Multiservicios Lokos. Officials say their co-defendants trafficked cocaine, heroin and fentanyl throughout the Wasatch Front, then the pair allegedly took in the proceeds and falsified wire transfer information to avoid detection.

An operation involving several local, state and federal law enforcement agencies seized 62,000 fentanyl pills, 24.5 pounds of heroin, 8.5 pounds of cocaine, five firearms, and $237,000 in cash.

Espinoza-Grajeda and De Sutter are charged with conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to structure transactions to evade reporting requirements, conspiracy to evade suspicious activity reporting and anti-money laundering requirements.

The co-defendants and their respective ages are listed below. Specific details about what charges they face were not immediately available.

  • Guadalupe Aracely Vargas Ruelas, 24
  • Rodrigo Andres Droguett-Almendra, 26
  • Erik Rojas-Moreno, 18
  • Fredis Omar Archaga-Ponce, 41
  • Santos Reynerio Lemuz-Ortega, 37
  • Ever Nohe Murillo-Raudales, 34
  • Jose Nixon Escoto-Ortez, 44
  • Vicente Ortez-Zuniga, 42
  • Wilmer Arnoldo Romero-Soto, 45
  • Rigo Adolfo Melendez-Martinez, 43
  • Cristian Antonio Valle-Acosta, 22
  • Yahir Acosta-Melendez, 20
  • Isaac Antonio Arteaga-Acosta, 39
  • Edilberto Melendez-Ponce, 37
  • Henry Arita-Lozano, 34
  • Frances Dalyana Power-Escobar, 31
  • Kevin Ariel Ruiz-Aguilar, 34
  • Milton Ivan Acosta Hernandez, 37
  • Miguel Fierro, 48
  • Sandy Contreras Espinoza, 32
  • Cristian Escobar-Gomez, 27

All 21 of the above are citizens of either Mexico or Honduras and live in the Salt Lake Valley, except for Droguett-Almendra, who is from Chile and resides in Orem.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said 22 of the 23 suspects have been ordered to remain in custody pending trial, but they did not specify which defendant was the exception.