Crime & Justice

2 to plead guilty in Los Angeles fashion district raids

A photo released by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement shows bulk cash seized by authorities in a federal law enforcement sweep of downtown Los Angeles Fashion District businesses allegedly linked to money laundering operations for international drug cartels. On Friday, May 29, 2015, a judge was expected to accept guilty pleas from two suspects in the raid.
A photo released by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement shows bulk cash seized by authorities in a federal law enforcement sweep of downtown Los Angeles Fashion District businesses allegedly linked to money laundering operations for international drug cartels. On Friday, May 29, 2015, a judge was expected to accept guilty pleas from two suspects in the raid.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A father and son have agreed to plead guilty to crimes stemming from an investigation into suspectedmoney laundering for Mexican drug cartels in the Los Angeles fashion district.

Xilin Chen and his son, Tom Chen, signed plea agreements in federal court in Los Angeles this week, and a judge is expected to accept the agreements at a hearing Friday.

The Chens' attorneys didn't respond to requests for comment Thursday on the plea agreements.

The father and son were among nine people arrested in September after authorities raided businesses in the fashion district that were suspected of taking bulk cash funneled by drug cartels for clothing exported to Mexico.

Though their arrests were announced together, the Chens aren't believed to be directly connected to the most serious case involving the Sinaloa Cartel, which prosecutors say had $140,000 in ransom payments funneled through the fashion district for a hostage who was beaten and tortured in Mexico.

Xilin Chen is agreeing to plead guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, unlawful procurement of citizenship and giving false papers to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Tom Chen is agreeing to plead guilty to giving false papers to the agency.

Prosecutors say the Chens are Chinese nationals with U.S. citizenship, and that the eldest Chen owned two lingerie import companies. Both men face deportation upon conviction.

The plea agreements say the Chens might not have to spend any time in jail, though the charges that Xilin Chen is admitting carry penalties of up to 50 years in prison. His son's conviction would be punishable by up to five years.

Additionally, the Chens are agreeing to forfeit about $436,000 seized during their arrest and the proceeds from the sale of their properties.