On July 24th, 2020, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) charged four individuals with money laundering conspiracy in connection with an alleged $13 million pig butchering scheme. According to the DOJ, the alleged scheme began in 2017 and involved at least 16 participants laundering money during the sale of pigs from Mexico to various restaurant chains across the United States. The four individuals charged were accused of involvement in transactions that largely sent funds overseas.
The individuals were identified as Jerry McGregor (31) of California, Steve Li (32) of Arizona, Ya Ting Ma (31) of Arizona, and Li Xin Guan (31) of California. McGregor and Li allegedly worked with Ma and Guan to launder proceeds from pig sales by creating and maintaining shell companies, manipulating financial records, and creating false invoices. The indictment alleges the four individuals conspired to move the illegal money overseas in order to defraud banks and hide the funds from detection.
The DOJ investigation was a result of the cooperation between federal law enforcement and US and Mexican agricultural and customs officials. John Durham, US Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said in a statement that “These defendants exploited a complicated international financial system for their own personal gain, violating US laws designed to protect our financial jurisdictions.”
If convicted, the four defendants could face significant prison sentences under the money laundering and fraud statutes. This case is also a warning to other individuals and entities that attempt to exploit the US financial system in order to mask illegal activity.