El Paso attorney stands trial for allegedly conspiring to launder $600 million

EL PASO, Texas - An El Paso attorney is on trial at the U.S. District Courthouse, charged with conspiracy to launder $600 million for a Mexican drug cartel.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement busted Marco Delgado in 2007 for moving drug money, and he allegedly continued laundering cash for more than a year after becoming an informant.

Delgado's friend Victor Pimentel took the stand Monday. He and Delgado laundered money with Lillian De La Concha, the ex-wife of former Mexican President Vincente Fox, Pimentel said. The prosecution Thursday showed the jury emails among the three from late 2006. They used Girl Scout cookie boxes as code for millions in laundered cash.

In the emails, the three discussed plans to charge the Milenio cartel a 10 percent, or $60 million, laundering fee. The two men would have each gotten 4 percent, or $24 million, while De La Concha stood to claim a 2 percent, or $12 million, finder's fee.

Delgado and De La Concha also sent a letter to the chief of staff for then-President Felipe Calderon, asking that Pimentel's cousin be hired as a customs agent at the Palomas bridge in Chihuahua.

Also testifying Monday was Dep. David Elliott of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, just west of Atlanta -- a city known as a common midpoint for drugs coming from the southwestern border. Elliott stopped Pimentel leaving Atlanta in 2007 with $1.5 million in drug money in his trunk. Pimentel showed Elliott a phony Texas oil company settlement document that Delgado allegedly gave Pimentel in case he got pulled over, Elliott said.

The way the money was packaged in Pimentel's trunk, in vacuum-sealed bags with dryer sheets in between them to hide the smell of narcotics, confirmed to Elliott that it was cartel related, Elliott said. Pimentel then cooperated with authorities to set up a controlled delivery in late 2007, when Delgado was arrested and became an ICE informant.

After his most recent arrest in November, Delgado pleads not guilty to 15 counts of money laundering and two counts of wire fraud. If convicted, he could face 20 years in prison. Trial picks up Tuesday at 9 a.m.

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