El Paso lawyer Marco Antonio Delgado, 46, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering of over $1 million, federal officials said.
Agents from the office of Homeland Security Investigations arrested Delgado on Friday at a West Side restaurant, a representative from the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
Delgado allegedly worked with the Milenio drug cartel, or Cartel de los Valencia, based in the Mexican state of Jalisco, officials said.
The local attorney had his initial appearance in federal court Monday afternoon. A federal magistrate scheduled a detention hearing for 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Delgado will remain detained at the County Jail without bond.
The indictment against Delgado was still sealed Monday afternoon.
According to ICE, the local attorney allegedly conspired with other individuals to launder money believed to be from drug-trafficking proceeds between July 2007 and December 2008.
The investigation revealed that Delgado is linked to the Mexican drug organization and conspired to launder more that $600 million. Delgado allegedly delayed extradition warrants of Mexican nationals serving sentences on drug charges in the United States, according to ICE.
Delgado's defense attorney, Jose Montes Jr., declined to comment on the case, but mentioned that his client will plead not guilty on the money laundering charges. If found guilty, Delgado could face up to 20 years in prison
and pay a maximum of a $250,000 fine.
Montes Jr. confirmed that his client worked at Delgado & Associates, P.C., located on the West Side.
The law firm was operating Monday. A woman who answered the phone declined to comment on the lawyer's arrest.
According to its website, the law firm has offices in Texas; Calgary, Canada; Distrito Federal, Mexico; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos islands.
It describes itself as a "boutique law firm uniquely designed and committed to provide its clients with unparalleled legal services in the areas of energy regulation (power and gas), alternative energy, international business, international energy, and international transaction planning."
The Web links that lead to the firm's members and significant cases are "under construction."
The investigation that led to the arrest of Delgado was coordinated by HSI El Paso's financial group and the HSI-led Southwest Border Financial Operations and Currency United Strike Force, a multi-agency group that includes federal and state agencies that target financial crimes.
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