Gulf Cartel plaza boss wife gets more than 7 years in prison for money laundering

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The wife of a purported Gulf Cartel plaza boss in Miguel Aleman has been sentenced to a little more seven years in prison and will forfeit her Roma home and more than $800,000 in cash.

Jessenia Flores-Salinas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering on Oct. 5, 2022 and was sentenced Tuesday.

She was arrested along with her sister, Julia Judith Flores-Salinas, and another woman, Alyssa Giselle Vera, in late 2021.

Both of them previously pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Julia was sentenced to more than six years in prison while Vera was sentenced to a year-and-a-half in prison.

Jessenia is married to Hugo Armando Cortinas-Salinas, who is identified as the plaza boss in the criminal complaint against the suspects.

The trio was arrested after Drug Enforcement Administration special agents, Border Patrol agents and authorities with the Starr County Sheriff’s Office were conducting surveillance at Jessenia’s home at 879 Austin Road in Roma.

The criminal complaint said authorities saw a man who resembled Cortinas-Salinas at the residence and watched as Jessenia and a juvenile arrived in a white Kia SUV and greeted the man.

When all of them left, sheriff’s deputies conducted a traffic stop resulting in Border Patrol agents determining everyone in the vehicle, including the man who resembled the plaza boss, were in the country illegally.

The complaint isn’t clear whether the man actually was the plaza boss and a search of federal court records doesn’t return any complaints or indictments against Cortinas-Salinas.

Investigators gained consent to search the Roma residence and found $809,980 in cash.

“While conducting the search, agents found bulk currency concealed in shoe boxes and backpacks in the master bathroom and closet of the residence,” the complaint stated. “Agents also located additional bulk currency in concealed compartments of an entertainment center in the living room.”

Authorities initiated surveillance at the home after Vera was found with $9,230 on Oct. 22, 2021 as she tried to enter the United States at the Roma port of entry.

During an interview, she admitted to previously smuggling approximately $50,000 in cash from Mexico to the residence.

She told investigators that the cash was proceeds from human smuggling.