HomeNewsBrokers and US Banks: How Honduras’ Atlantic Cartel Laundered Millions

Brokers and US Banks: How Honduras’ Atlantic Cartel Laundered Millions


The case of a Honduran money launderer, soon to be sentenced in the United States, has shed light on the importance of brokers and US bank accounts for repatriating drug money.

Kensy García Torres, a financial broker for a Honduran cartel, recently pled guilty to laundering over $1.8 million in drug money between 2018 and 2019, according to a plea agreement filed with prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida. García Torres was arrested in Miami earlier this year and her sentencing is reportedly scheduled for August 12.

According to the charges against her, García Torres contacted an FBI informant in late 2018 to help the group launder money in Miami. US prosecutors did not identify the group by name but alleged its leader was Fredy Donaldo Marmol Vallejo – a former top leader of Honduras’ Atlantic Cartel, which manages cocaine-smuggling operations on the country’s Caribbean coast.

Working on García Torres’ instructions, the FBI informant collected five bulk cash payments – stuffed in duffel bags or briefcases – from hotels and other locations in Miami. The payments totaled between $77,000 and $359,000 and were proceeds from drug trafficking, according to US prosecutors.

SEE ALSO: Cocaine and Narco-Politics in the Mosquitia Region of Honduras

On receiving the money, García Torres provided the informant with instructions for paying commissions to the group of money launderers. The informant wired the illicit funds back to Honduras via US bank accounts or repatriated the money in cash using human couriers.

For each payment, García Torres and her associates took a 7 percent cut. The informant received 1 percent, while 4 percent went to the informant’s company.

García Torres and her associates received over $120,000 in commissions for laundering the drug money during her time in the conspiracy, according to the plea agreement.

Back in Honduras, García Torres maintained ties with drug traffickers and political parties connected to the drug trade, local press reported.

InSight Crime Analysis

García Torres’ case offers a glimpse into how criminal groups like the Atlantic Cartel repatriate profits from the drug trade using brokers and bank accounts in the US.

Drug groups receive millions of dollars in illicit cash, and brokers like García Torres are key to separating the funds into smaller chunks that can be wired through US banks accounts or carried home in cash without raising eyebrows.

The US banking system is central to this. Drug traffickers often receive cash payments in the United States – the primary destination for Latin America cocaine. Depositing the funds into US accounts provides a legitimate front for transferring and hiding the money.

SEE ALSO: US Indictment of Honduran Ex-President Spells Out 20 Years of Drug Ties

Prosecutors estimate the FBI informant laundered approximately $2.8 million for the Atlantic Cartel with García Torres’ assistance over the course of the US investigation, highlighting the potential for quick financial gains.

Drug groups in Mexico and Colombia have likely channeled hundreds of millions of dollars annually into the US banking system over recent years.

This includes Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación - CJNG). Both groups laundered millions of dollars through the US financial system using brokers, according to US prosecutors. The brokers allegedly picked up bulk cash payments in the US and deposited them into "fictitious funnel business bank accounts," before wiring the funds to personal accounts in Mexico.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content

CHILE / 25 AUG 2021

A series of seizures and drug raids across Latin America have revealed how previously niche high-strength marijuana products are establishing…

COCAINE / 7 JUN 2022

A Mexican drug trafficking ring with connections to cartels operated marijuana plantations and cocaine processing labs in Spain, displaying how…

COCAINE / 5 JAN 2023

With historic cocaine seizures happening across Latin America, how can governments safely and quickly get rid of the drugs they…

About InSight Crime


Venezuela Coverage Continues to be Highlighted

3 MAR 2023

This week, InSight Crime co-director Jeremy McDermott was the featured guest on the Americas Quarterly podcast, where he provided an expert overview of the changing dynamics…


Venezuela's Organized Crime Top 10 Attracts Attention

24 FEB 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published its ranking of Venezuela’s ten organized crime groups to accompany the launch of the Venezuela Organized Crime Observatory. Read…


InSight Crime on El País Podcast

10 FEB 2023

This week, InSight Crime co-founder, Jeremy McDermott, was among experts featured in an El País podcast on the progress of Colombia’s nascent peace process.


InSight Crime Interviewed by Associated Press

3 FEB 2023

This week, InSight Crime’s Co-director Jeremy McDermott was interviewed by the Associated Press on developments in Haiti as the country continues its prolonged collapse. McDermott’s words were republished around the world,…


Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…