Three family members in Douglas have been sentenced in Cochise County Superior Court in a large-scale money laundering operation dating back to 2006.
The head of the group, Gilberto Escalante, received an aggravated sentence of eight years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of money laundering.
His ex-wife, Niomi Escalante, and sister, Angelica Escalante, were both given a sentence of five years probation. Niomi was also ordered to pay back about $21,000 to the State of Arizona for fraud committed against the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System and food stamp system as part of her plea.
The plea agreements required that the trio forfeit all interest in a 36-acre property in Pirtleville. It was purchased in 2007 by Angelica Escalante and Niomi Escalante while Gilberto Escalante was in prison serving a sentence for a conviction of conducting an illegal enterprise, stemming from his drug trafficking activities, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said.
While in prison, he directed the construction of a 2,500-square-foot home and a 3,000-square-foot horse stable, purchased and built with the money derived from Gilberto Escalante's illegal activities, Horne said.
Gilberto Escalante was convicted in 1992 of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana. In 2005, he was convicted in Pima County Superior Court of illegally conducting an enterprise, stemming from drug trafficking activities.
The property has been forfeited to the State of Arizona as the proceeds of racketeering offenses and will be sold. The proceeds of this sale will go toward supporting further law enforcement efforts targeted at investigating and prosecuting other racketeering offenses.
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