Midwestern Beauty Queen Caught Up In Mexican Cartel Bust

(PatriotWise.com) — Two bank employees and a former Miss Latina Indiana were indicted in connection to a Mexican drug-trafficking operation to move cocaine into the US and launder millions.

According to a May 21 news release from the US Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Illinois, an unsealed superseding indictment charges flight attendant Genis Zapata, a former beauty contestant winner from Lafayette, Indiana, of assisting drug traffickers transport drug proceeds on airline flights.

The 34-year-old Zapata used her position to assist in moving drug proceeds from the Midwestern US to the Southern US and into Mexico.

The money was also shipped by tractor-trailers and a private charter plane that federal authorities seized in 2021 at the Gary, Indiana, airport.

Also indicted were Zapata’s 33-year-old sister Ilenis and another Lafayette, Indiana bank employee, Georgina Banuelos, 39, who helped launder the drug money by exchanging lower denominations for higher denominations. The two women, who worked at the same Lafayette bank, also failed to file the legally required currency reports for the transactions.

The superseding indictment against Glenis Zapata, Ilenis Zapada, and Georgina Banuelos also renewed the money laundering and conspiracy charges against the 15 previously indicted defendants, including the Mexican cartel’s leader Oswaldo Espinosa, and its primary manager, Jorge Borbon-Ochoa.

Also indicted was the head of the cartel’s Chicago operations, Texas resident Richard Tello.

Espinosa, Borbon-Ochoa, and Tello are accused of transporting wholesale quantities of cocaine from Mexico to the US from 2018 to 2023. The operation used stash houses, garages, and warehouses in Chicago to store cocaine and cash.

The indictments followed an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF).

The OCDETF are prosecutor-led, multi-agency task forces that identify, disrupt, and dismantle drug trafficking organizations and other criminal cartels operating in the United States, according to the news release.

The task forces leverage federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against organized criminal networks.

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