La Familia Michoacan, Bradenton brothers plead guilty to drug trafficking, money laundering

By ELIZABETH JOHNSON ejohnson@bradenton.com
May 18, 2012

Two brothers, formerly living in Bradenton, pleaded guilty Friday to drug trafficking and money laundering charges in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa.

Mexican nationals Victor Peralta-Saucedo, 25, and Guillermo Peralta-Saucedo, 32, were illegally living in Bradenton before their arrest, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office
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According to their plea agreements, Victor and Guillermo Peralta-Saucedo advised others to smuggle cocaine to the United States from Mexico in 2011 for La Familia Michoacan, the Mexican drug cartel, the release stated.

"Thousands of kiloswill change hands," saidDave Bristow, Manatee County sheriff's office spokesman.

"This is one of the bigger busts we've had. It's made a significant impact on drug trafficking in this county."

The release states that a courier, working under the direction of the brothers, smuggled two to four kilograms of cocaine more than 20 times in a hidden compartment in an automobile. The cocaine was distributed in Manatee County.

A courier would also drive money laundered by the brothers into Mexico. To decrease the number of bills involved and allow for easier concealment, the money was converted to larger denominations of currency, the release stated.

Bristow referred to the case as "top-tier" and said it has been ongoing since 2006.

In accordance with the plea agreements, assets used to carry out the trafficking and laundering will be forfeited to the United States. Those assets include three homes and a duplex in Bradenton.

"I've been told by my folks since these two have been arrested, it's a little more difficult to get cocaine in Manatee and some of the surrounding counties," Sheriff Brad Steube said. "We would like to think it's because of these arrests, but you never know. Usually when you're arresting folks for this there's someone to step right in and take over."

Each brother faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison for conspiring with others to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine.

They also face up to 20 years for conducting "financial transactions, affecting interstate and foreign commerce, involving the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity."

Because these charges are on the federal level, the brothers will be required to serve 100 percent of their final sentences.

This case is the result of a joint investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

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