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Man sentenced to 17 years' prison for role in San Diego drug-trafficking, money-laundering ring

San Diego Union Tribune logo San Diego Union Tribune 10/27/2020 Alex Riggins
Federal authorities seized this cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine and these firearms Aug. 9, 2017, from a National City self-storage facility that was part of the drug-trafficking, money-laundering ring headed by Javier Felix Bayardo. (Court records) © (Court records) Federal authorities seized this cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine and these firearms Aug. 9, 2017, from a National City self-storage facility that was part of the drug-trafficking, money-laundering ring headed by Javier Felix Bayardo. (Court records)

A judge on Monday sentenced a 36-year-old Mexican citizen to 17 years in federal prison for his role in a San Diego-based drug-trafficking and money-laundering ring, prosecutors said.

Javier Felix Bayardo pleaded guilty in 2018 to two counts of conspiracy involving drug trafficking and money laundering and one count of possessing a firearm in connection with drug trafficking.

Prosecutors called Felix Bayardo — who was from Sinaloa, Mexico, but was living in San Diego — the leader and organizer of the criminal group.

Prosecutors said Felix Bayardo and others were involved in laundering at least $4.5 million in drug proceeds. According to the plea agreement, Felix Bayardo's crimes involved the drugs and weapons discovered during an August 2017 search of a National City storage unit. Authorities found more than 58 pounds of cocaine, about 1,070 pounds of illicit cannabis, more than two pounds of methamphetamine and five firearms, including a fully automatic rifle.

A criminal complaint in the case detailed more drugs and money discovered by federal authorities, including nearly 6,000 pounds of cannabis discovered inside a South Bay home and self-storage facility.

Prosecutors allege that Felix Bayardo and at least seven others took part in the crimes. Several of Felix Bayardo's co-defendants have also pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison.

In a plea agreement, Felix Bayardo admitted that from 2014 to 2017, he helped coordinate drugs being smuggled into San Diego. He and his accomplices stashed the narcotics in commercial storage units before delivering them to customers in Southern California and elsewhere, prosecutors said.

Felix Bayardo also admitted in the plea agreement that he and others opened dozens of San Diego-based bank accounts in which they'd receive drug proceeds from around the country. They would withdraw the money from the San Diego-area accounts "for bulk transport to drug suppliers in Mexico."

In addition to the prison sentence, a judge ordered Felix Bayardo to pay a $30,000 fine. The court has previously ordered Felix Bayardo and his co-defendants to forfeit more than $27,500 cash, property in Las Vegas, two Kawasaki Jet Skis, 25 watches, 26 handbags, 42 pairs of women's shoes, three big-screen televisions and a money counter.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

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